Unite has pledged “maximum support” for its members working for Mitie after the company announced yesterday (September 20) that it may slash up to 480 jobs.
The announcement comes as the outsourcing giant, which provides services such as cleaning, security, maintenance and pest control, has issued a string of profit warnings and only last month came under fire by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
In August, the FCA launched an investigation into the timing and content of one of Mitie’s profit warnings it issued last year.
And only a month before, the accountancy watchdog the Financial Reporting Council launched a probe into Deloitte’s auditing of Mitie’s accounts.
The beleaguered Mitie, which has benefited massively from privatisation – its workers clean NHS hospitals, maintain schools, and run immigration detention centres – has over the years come under fire for providing services on the cheap.
In 2013, a suicidal inmate at a detention centre run by Mitie set himself on fire and the fire quickly spread, with nearly 200 people having to be evacuated – the company had failed to install fire sprinklers despite a fire and rescue service warning them to do so after a similar fire a few years before.
In 2015, Mitie was fined 67 per cent of its monthly profits at Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) after it failed to provide adequate services.
Cost cutting programme
The company is now undergoing a cost-cutting programme, revising its initial estimate for the programme up from £15m to £24m.
The company has already cut 200 jobs and blamed the rising cost of its restructuring programme, which aims to save £40m by 2020.
Mitie has also blamed Brexit uncertainty and ‘economic pressures’ for its recent woes but Unite has pointed to a culture of mismanagement that, it fears, the workers will eventually pay for.
Last year, when Mitie chief Ruby McGregor-Smith stepped down in her nearly decade long role in charge – just after the company’s first profit warning – she took home £2.6m that year, while Mitie cleaners and other workers are barely eking out a living on the minimum wage.
Of the latest announcement that nearly 500 jobs may go, Unite national officer Rhys McCarthy said, “We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the company to discuss the implications of today’s announcement and how these job cuts will impact on the many sectors and activities that the company covers.
“It is clear that Mitie has managerial problems at the top that have been brewing for some time and the investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) relating to a 2016 profit warning does not engender confidence,” he added.
“We hope that workers are not paying for their jobs because of poor decision-making by senior management and questions over financial auditing – it would leave a sour taste in the mouth if they were.
“Unite has more than 1,000 members working across Mitie and if their jobs are affected by today’s announcement, the union will be giving them maximum support during this difficult time.”