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Anger as Carillion lays off 340 apprentices

Anger as Carillion lays off 340 apprentices

Unite says latest job losses are ‘act of crass stupidity’ amid construction skills shortage. The apprentice redundancies made up the bulk of the latest round of 356 job losses at Carillion.

The latest redundancies at Carillion, the construction and outsourcing company that fell into administration in January, include just over 340 construction apprentices.

The Unite union said the apprentice redundancies, which made up the bulk of the most recent round of 356 job losses, were “an act of crass stupidity” amid a shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry.

Carillion collapsed under the weight of a £1.5bn debt pile after the government refused to bail it out.

The outsourcing firm was a central contractor for the Crossrail project and also maintained and repaired some UK prisons and provided cleaners and caterers to schools.

 Gail Cartmail, an assistant general secretary at Unite, said: “This is an appalling way to treat these apprentices who should have become the backbone of the industry. To dump them and to destroy their training is an act of crass stupidity.”

The union said the Carillion redundancies reduced the UK construction apprenticeship numbers by 1.6%.

 Cartmail said: “These actions highlight the government’s total failure to assist the workers who have been most affected by Carillion’s collapse through no fault of their own.

“The government could have used its procurement power to find placements for these apprentices but it chose not to, demonstrating that it is not serious about dealing with the skills crisis facing the industry.”

The government said the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) had found new paid employment for 777 apprentices who had worked for Carillion and was offering “tailored support” to help those made redundant find new work.

Announcing the latest redundancies, the official receiver said 13,516 jobs (74% of the pre-liquidation workforce) had been saved and 2,778 (15%) made redundant through the liquidation of Carillion.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Following the collapse of Carillion the CITB took immediate action to make sure apprenticeship training could continue as normal and we have been working closely with the CITB to find alternative employment for all those apprentices.”

Earlier this month MPs urged ministers to learn lessons from the demise of Carillion, which was one of the biggest UK corporate collapses in years.

The House of Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee found fundamental flaws in the way the government awards contracts, resulting in contractors taking on unacceptable levels of financial risk.

Article courtesy of the Guardian (www.theguardian.com)

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