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Carillion. Lessons learned? It’s about people, stupid.

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We’ve had a few calls. That’s British understatement by the way.  If you work(ed) for Carillion or one of its suppliers then you would be less than human if you weren’t considering your job options just now.  And what makes things worse is that all this is being played out in the full glare of the media spotlight, with politicians doing their best to score points while you simply want to get on with your life and, hopefully, not suffer financially from the whole thing.

Everyone, not just politicians, is rushing to have their tuppence worth. That’s understandable, but what I find most annoying is the way in which Carillion has become a political football.  Depending on your point of view, it’s either an example of capitalism going wrong (again), or it’s a reflection of capitalism working properly by putting a badly run company out of business. You’ll not be surprised to know that the first of these links is by Simon Jenkins of the Guardian and the second from Allister Heath of the Daily Telegraph!

More pertinently, everyone who has/is writing about this sorry tale tends, naturally, to have their own agenda.  For example, the Telegraph has another article today about Carillion, by a David Buchler, suggesting that one of the key problems is that, given that the company’s difficulties had been evident for some time, the company did not take steps to introduce “a significant day-to-day involvement of professional, external turnaround specialists.”  At the foot of the article we read that Mr Buchler is “chairman of restructuring and turnaround adviser Buchler Phillips.” I rest my case…

The fact is, once you cut through all the political posturing and virtue signalling, irrespective of the fact that political necessity means that many of Carillion’s employees will still have jobs (albeit many with reduced pensions), there are going to be thousands of people, both their employees and across their supply chain, who are going to need jobs in the (very) near future. Allister Heath, writes, “I feel sorry for the sub-contractors; some will go bust.”  Yes, that is a peril of business.  However, and while I may be accused of doing the same as Mr Buchler, I do believe that, at the most basic level this sort of business disaster is about the people concerned, especially the “small” people and firms.  Those at the top may lost their jobs too, but they tend to be financially cushioned.  It’s clear that some of those at Carillion were extremely well cushioned, but if you’re a subbie or a direct trades employee then you want to know that your work is secure and, if it’s not, then you want help quickly.  That’s where the construction recruitment industry comes in – not just my company but all the others spread across the UK and elsewhere who are, even now, trying hard to help these small people.  In amongst all the politicking that’s something to be proud of…

Chris Peace, MD, Peace Recruitment


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