Construction giant Carillion is set to go into liquidation after its lenders and the government failed to reach a deal to save it.
Union RMT said the news is disastrous for the workforce and disastrous for transport and public services in Britain.
Carillion employs around 40,000 people worldwide in places such as Canada, the Middle East and North Africa.
Many of those also work in the UK, where Carillion was one of Network Rail’s top contractors for 2016/17. RMT said it will be demanding urgent meetings with Network Rail to protect its members’ jobs and pensions.
Carillion was awarded contracts to construct two sections of the first phase of HS2 between London and Birmingham.
As part of the Carillion-Eiffage-Kier JV (Carillion Construction Ltd, Eiffage Genie Civil SA, Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd), it was due to build two stretches in the “Area Central” section: North Portal Chiltern Tunnels to Brackley; and Brackley to South Portal of Long Itchington Wood Green Tunnel.
Carillion chair Philip Green said: “This is a very sad day for Carillion, for our colleagues, suppliers and customers that we have been proud to serve over many years.
“Over recent months huge efforts have been made to restructure Carillion to deliver its sustainable future and the board is very grateful for the huge efforts made by Keith Cochrane, our executive team and many others who have worked tirelessly over this period.
“In recent days however we have been unable to secure the funding to support our business plan and it is therefore with the deepest regret that we have arrived at this decision.
“We understand that HM Government will be providing the necessary funding required by the Official Receiver to maintain the public services carried on by Carillion staff, subcontractors and suppliers.”
The name Carillion has become a familiar one within the rail industry over the last 20 years after demerging from Tarmac in 1999.
Discussions took place between Balfour Beatty and Carillion in 2014 over a potential merger. Balfour Beatty terminated discussions after Carillion decided it would only consider a merger if Balfour Beatty cancelled the sale of Parsons Brinckerhoff, now a subsidiary of WSP.
Carillion experienced well documented financial difficulties in 2017 and through to 2018 before the announced liquidation on January 15, 2018.