Sunday 17 August 2014

Opinion: Frying pan or fire for Balfour staff

One group of people seem certain to suffer however the Balfour/Carillion merger saga pans out.

Staff at Balfour’s Construction Services division have already been hit with a swathe of cuts.
And more are in the offing whether Balfour
remains an independent firm or merges with its rival.
Balfour bosses are planning to close another three regional units while Carillion has its eyes on even greater savings with a cut of up to two-thirds in construction turnover.
Either choice of management is hardly appealing to the troops on the ground.
But Carillion’s plans for slashing the construction division look brutal with thousands of jobs at risk.
They also seem a little baffling with a continuing construction recovery.
Balfour bosses also have history for promising no more cuts then wielding the axe once again if the accounts look grim.
So what have the thousands of loyal staff at Balfour’s construction arm done exactly to deserve all this?
Follow orders is the easy answer to that one in most cases.
Balfour’s management has struggled to adapt to a changing market for years.
Of course a few high profile bosses have been shown the door.
But many more staff have been made redundant for doing nothing more than what they were told.
Carillion may paint themselves as management gurus during the takeover talks.
But let’s not forget this was the same boardroom who paid £306m for Green Deal specialist Eaga only to see its strategy implode.
It seems perverse to be slimming construction down as a recovery begins and Carillion’s plans look little more than general cost slashing to impress the City.
The new raft of Balfour bosses are adamant that a leaner, more efficient company won’t repeat the mistakes of the past.
While Carillion sees the future in services supported by a cash-generative construction rump.
Boardrooms love a good takeover battle – it makes them feel important.
But senior managers on both sides have a lot of work to do to prove to those below they are worth following.