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Fears for museum staff hit by collapse of Carillion

Trade union calls for outsourced jobs to be brought back in-house

16 March, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Candy Udwin: ‘We have to make sure they are not left to pay for the mess’

THE world famous British Museum is facing calls to bring back in-house dozens of staff it outsourced to the stricken construction giant Carillion.

The museum’s management outsourced more than 138 of its workers to the company five years ago despite staff going on strike.

At the time of Carillion’s spectacular collapse in January more than 50 of the staff posts had been culled.

The museum’s cleaners, porters, mailroom and maintenance staff are coming in to work every day but are unable to order supplies because they do not technically have an employer.

Candy Udwin, vice-president of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said: “Before Carillion took over five years ago all the unions at the British Museum campaigned and went on strike in 2012 to warn of the dangers and to try and stop the museum’s privatisation plan. They have been proved right. We have to make sure they are not left to pay for the mess. We think this is an opportunity for the museum to bring back the staff in-house.”

PCS union general secretary Mark Serwotka and a senior Labour front-bencher will speak at a rally outside the outside the Grade I-listed museum next week.

Carillion – the second largest construction firm in the UK – went into compulsory liquidation on January 15.

The TUPE, Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations, that ensure staff do not get less favourable deals when a company buys out another company, do not apply in insolvency cases.

Museum boss Hartwig Fischer has not met the staff or the unions to discuss their uncertain future.

A British Museum statement said: “We are working hard with PwC [PricewaterhouseCoopers] to ensure that services continue to be delivered to the museum.

“We are reviewing options and will be in discussions with alternative service providers. We cannot discuss the details of these discussions at this stage for reasons of commercial confidentiality.

“Museum management are keeping the museum staff and their representatives informed on the position.

“However, the museum is not in a position to consult with Carillion staff or their representatives.”

When Carillion took over the contract Andy Lane, Carillion account director for the British Museum, said: “We are thrilled to be working with the British Museum, this is a hugely prestigious contract for us.”

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