Carillion’s greedy bosses caused outrage yesterday after shamelessly refusing to return the massive bonuses they received while the company sank.
Unite branded their refusal “a slap in the face” for the thousands of workers whose livelihoods and pensions have been upended by the disaster.
Despite hollow apologies for the collapse at a joint select committee hearing, all seven Carillion bosses in attendance refused to commit to returning huge bonuses pocketed during the run up to firm’s implosion.
Addressing the group, Labour MP and business committee chair Rachel Reeves said, “Somebody who has worked for the business for 22 years, who every year paid into their pension scheme and is now coming up for retirement will find that their pension cut by 10 per cent.
“All of you sitting here received multimillion payments from Carillion. You say how sad and disappointed you are but what actions do you take?
‘Right this wrong’
“It’s just words. The money’s in the bank. Why don’t you give some money back and try to put right some of this wrong?”
Former chief executive Richard Howson was paid bonuses of £293,000 in 2015 and £245,000 in 2016 before being fired last year after a severe profits warning.
Shockingly, Howson insisted he deserved the money and said he would only give the money back if it was proven the bonuses hadn’t been paid “in line with processes”.
During the hearing, MPs heard how Carillion bosses paid more in shareholder dividends than staff pension contributions and handed themselves huge salaries and bonuses while steering the company towards the rocks.
Not one of the executives present accepted any direct responsibility for the firm’s demise.
After the hearing, Reeves and fellow Labour MP and work and pensions committee chair Frank Field labelled the former-bosses “delusional”.
In a joint statement, they said, “This morning a series of delusional characters maintained that everything was hunky dory until it all went suddenly and unforeseeably wrong.
“We heard variously that this was the fault of the Bank of England, the foreign exchange markets, advisers, Brexit, the snap election, investors, suppliers, the construction industry, the business culture of the Middle East and professional designers of concrete beams.
“Everything we have seen points the fingers in another direction – to the people who built a giant company on sand in a desperate dash for cash.”
Royal Liverpool Hospital
The appearance of Carillion’s leadership before the joint select committee coincided with the confirmation that Royal Liverpool Hospital is unlikely to be completed this year because of the firm’s collapse.
As a result Unite renewed its call on the government to increase help and assistance to the supply chain and sub-contractors, which have been left reeling by Carillion’s demise.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said, “The expected long delays before work is restarted will place even greater financial stress on sub-contractors who have already lost thousands due to Carillion’s collapse.
“This is already resulting in workers being laid off and skills being lost from the industry. While communities are being denied world class medical facilities that are urgently needed.”
Cartmail added that the statements Carillion’s bosses made to MPs underscored the need for a public enquiry into how and why the company failed.
“For workers who have already lost their jobs, or who are still facing redundancy, it must be sickening to be told that all of Carillion’s bosses believed their performance was exemplary and the company’s collapse was not their fault,” she said.
“As if that wasn’t enough of a slap in the face for workers, they shamelessly refused calls to hand back the massive bonuses they received while running the company into the ground. Quite frankly they are living in a parallel universe.”
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