The decision to announce redundancies rather than furlough electricians during the coronavirus crisis has been branded ‘cruel’ by unions
The latest wave of redundancies comes just a week after around 60 redundancies among Balfour Beatty Kilpatrick staff who were working at the MGT renewable energy facility in Teesside.
The firm was called upon to revoke the redundancies by local MPs but pressed ahead with the cuts arguing the redundancies were not covid related and were not eligible for the Job Retention Scheme.
The Crossrail redundancies were also planned before the coronavirus crisis began.
Although one worker told the Enquirer: “The consultation process was delayed by the outbreak so obviously we have been affected.
“This means we are facing universal credit rather than being furloughed and then given the chance to find jobs when the industry gets back on its feet.”
A Balfour Beatty spokesperson said: “This phased process has been ongoing since summer 2019 and commenced prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We continue to regularly engage with our employees as we move through this phased consultation in line with the reduction of works on site as the project comes to a close.
“Unfortunately, as the reasons for consultation are not related to the COVID-19 pandemic, those affected employees are not eligible for the UK Government’s COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme.”
But union Unite has slammed the decision and said that it is ‘very possible’ the workers will need to be taken back on after the outbreak has passed, because of the volatilities in the labour market that will follow in the wake of the emergency.
Unite regional officer Mark Soave said: “There is no reason for Balfour Beatty to cast them into penury on Universal Credit at such a dreadful time.
“It is very possible they will be needed back on site after the lockdown has ended given the volatilities in the labour market that will follow in the wake of the coronavirus.
“Nor does Balfour Beatty’s excuse that it does not want to seem to be taking advantage of the job retention scheme hold water.
“Clearly anyone with even a modicum of sense can see that registering these workers is the moral thing to do.
“We implore Balfour Beatty’s management to think about the suffering they are going to cause these workers and their families and reverse this cruel decision.”