Notorious blacklisters Kier poised to take over May Gurney, run waste collection contract
As troubled waste management company May Gurney teeters on the edge, one thing is for sure: no one in Bristol is going to benefit – least of all the binmen and women struggling to keep the city clean under ever-tougher working conditions and on dwindling pay packets.
As reported in the last BRISTOLIAN, May Gurney’s highly-paid executives have been HOLDING THE CITY TO RANSOM, blackmailing senior council officers into inaction despite MG’s repeated failure to meet contractual targets. ‘Fine us and we go bankrupt; and if we go bankrupt, no rubbish will be collected at all, our workers will end up on the dole, and the council won’t be able to claw any money back.’
So there are sighs of relief at Shitty Hall at the news of a white knight coming to the rescue with a bail-out offer. Step forward civil engineers Kier Group, who are offering May Gurney a juicy £221 million in a merger deal expected to be confirmed in mid-June. When the deal goes through, the joint KG/MG organisation will have contracts at one in five of all the local authorities in the UK – including Bristol – with an estimated annual turnover of £2.8 billion, and £5.7 billion-worth of orders on the books. The service giant will encompass not just rubbish and recycling work, but also roads and housing maintenance, general facilities management, and construction.
Of course, when making a corporate omelette like this, eggs get broken. Around 200 are expected to lose their jobs – though only May Gurney’s frontline staff, not the directors and certainly not the shareholders, who will own more than a quarter of the new organisation.
As anxious workers who picketed May Gurney’s Keynsham depot in early May over the proposed deal pointed out, the company’s new overlords are up to their necks in ILLEGAL BLACKLISTING ACTIVITY. Like other big construction firms such as Costain (which also bid to buy out MG), Kier has a long-held reputation for getting rid of employees who call for safer working conditions. Such workers then find themselves turned down from jobs at other companies, regardless of skills or experience – enforced joblessness that can last for years, thanks to a secret ‘do not employ’ database operated by building industry-bankrolled spying outfit The Consulting Association. An offshoot of an earlier blacklisting service, the Economic League, TCA was raided in 2009 by the Office of the Information Commissioner, which then closed it down permanently for its extensive data protection violations.
But whilst TCA has been shut down, the practice of blacklisting lives on, as 28 electricians on the London Crossrail project (undertaken by a consortium including, erm, Kier) discovered just last year when they were unexpectedly made redundant. Why? Their union reps had raised real concerns over life-threatening safety issues.
Since then, around thirty local authorities across the country now refuse to accept tenders for publicly-funded contracts from blacklisting companies like Kier – but not Bristol City Council… Yet.
The question is, will our own council place more value in the lives and livelihoods of ordinary Bristolians, over the interests of rich corporate bosses?
And will His Royal Redtrouserness George Ferguson refuse to do business with Kier – or will he meekly stand by and let it take over where May Gurney left off, fleecing the city, endangering lives and blacklisting at will?
- For more info on how to protect yourselves against bosses who blacklist, check out the Blacklist Support Group, read its Hazards Magazine and visit the Blacklist Blog