Unions make as­sur­ances plea for staff at in­ter serve

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page - BY RYAN MCALEER AND PA

UNIONS are call­ing on the gov­ern­ment to give as­sur­ances to work­ers at In­ter­serve, which has sev­eral op­er­a­tions here, af­ter the out­sourc­ing gi­ant re­vealed it is seek­ing a res­cue deal.

Shares in the gov­ern­ment con­trac­tor plum­meted yes­ter­day af­ter it said share­hold­ers are likely to see their stakes di­luted as part of a plan to cut its debt.

In­ter­serve op­er­ates fa­cil­ity man­age­ment ser­vices at the South West Acute Hos­pi­tal in En­niskillen. It in­vested £7.8m to­wards the pri­vate fi­nance ini­tia­tive (PFI) hos­pi­tal.

It has also been in­volved in the con­struc­tion and op­er­a­tion of schools and col­leges across the prov­ince, in­clud­ing the South West Col­lege, as well as re­cent build­ing projects in Stra­bane, Down­patrick, Port­glenone and Belfast.

It has premises on the Ste­wart­stown Road in Belfast. At one time, it em­ployed around 400 peo­ple here.

It emerged over the week­end that the com­pany was hold­ing talks with lenders over its £500m debt pile. Unions voiced fears that work­ers could be fac­ing a re­peat of the col­lapse of Car­il­lion.

A spokesman for the com­pany had no de­tail about its op­er­a­tions here. Unite as­sis­tant gen­eral sec­re­tary Gail Cart­mail said: “The fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties that In­ter­serve finds it­self in is an­other dire warn­ing of the dan­gers of out­sourc­ing pub­lic ser­vices for pri­vate profit.

“We want to know from min­is­ters what con­tin­gency plans are in place should In­ter­serve be un­able to re­struc­ture its fi­nances.

“We would sup­port a tem­po­rary ban on In­ter­serve bid­ding for pub­lic sec­tor con­tracts, while it at­tempts to re­solve its prob­lems.”

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