A group of former Carillion workers is to take legal action over their dismissal earlier this year, following the collapse of the contractor.
The members of the Unite union were employed by Carillion company Planned Maintenance Engineering on a contract at GCHQ in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, reports Construction Manager.
The company they worked for went into compulsory liquidation on 15 January and on 23 January the 80-strong workforce was told by liquidator PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) that it faced redundancy.
Unite, which is supporting the workers’ legal claim, said the workers were dismissed on 6 February without consultation and told to claim their redundancy pay from the government’s redundancy payments office. Unite members were then taken on by G4S.
As their section of Carillion was in compulsory liquidation, the normal Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE) regulations did not apply so the workers’ employment and terms and conditions weren’t protected.
The union’s legal services arm has lodged a claim for failure to comply with the legal obligation to carry out collective consultation before making members redundant.
Unite assistant general secretary for legal services Howard Beckett said: "Unite is fulfilling its promise of using all avenues including its legal arm to defend our members who are the innocent victims of Carillion’s collapse.
"The complexity of this case, which combines employment law rights and draconian insolvency law requirements,Â demonstrates why workers need to be part of a union, it would have been simply impossible for individual workers to pursue such a case.
"If our members are successful then once again it is the taxpayers who are going to have to pick up the bill for Carillion’s failings. This again underlines that the outsourcing model is broken beyond repair and needs to be scrapped."
The claim is against the Carillion employing company, but the tribunal judge has also added in the secretary of state for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as an additional respondent to the claim as it is a BEIS agency, the Insolvency Service, which will have to pay the members if the claim is successful.
If successful, the workers can each be awarded up to 90 days’ pay, however as Carillion is in liquidation this would be paid by the Insolvency Service in the form of unpaid wages and would be capped at eight weeks and a maximum weekly amount of £489.
It is not clear whether Carillion or PWC will seek to defend the claim. PWC has been contacted for comment.