Government urged to act amid fears of Carillion collapse

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The Government is coming under increasing pressure to take urgent action to prevent the collapse of construction giant Carillion as thousands of workers wait for news of their fate.

Talks involving government ministers and company bosses were held throughout the weekend as unions warned that thousands of jobs, and workers’ pensions, were in danger of being “dragged under” by another bout of “reckless corporate irresponsibility”.

Unite called for an inquiry into the crisis, while Labour will quiz ministers in the Commons this week.

Carillion is a key supplier to the Government and has contracts in the rail industry, education and NHS.

It has met lenders to discuss options to reduce debts, recapitalise and/or restructure the group’s balance sheet.

Administrators could be called in within days unless shareholders, creditors or the Government agree to stump up funds, it is believed.

Carillion, which employs 20,000 workers in the UK, has struggled since reporting half-year losses of £1.15 billion and a meeting was held on Friday to discuss its pensions deficit.

Tory party chairman Brandon Lewis told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show: “It is a going concern, it’s a very commercially sensitive situation so I wouldn’t comment further than to say it is a going concern.

“I would hope to see that the working capital they need will be there, working with their partners.

“But of course ministers and my colleague the Secretary of State at Business is keeping a very close eye on it.”

Jon Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, warned the collapse of Carillion could badly impact the health service, where it is running several building projects along with facilities management at a handful of hospitals.

He told Sky News: “I think we need some urgent clarity from the Government about whether, if Carillion sadly goes under, those hospitals will be able to provide meals to patients on the wards this winter.

“I’m asking for the Government, Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, or a Government minister, to come to the House of Commons tomorrow and give us that clarity and give piece of mind to patients.”

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