Carillion – more corporate greed

Just discovered that the chairman of Carillion is non other than that community minded philanthropist Philip Green.

Now everyone is up in arms about Carillion – I know I am. But in reality the issue is not this company in particular it is the ethos behind the thinking and the actions that caused the disaster.

This company has been criticised because it continue to pay bonuses when the company was clearly heading for disaster – and yes that is partly despicably wrong. BUT this greed is common enough at the corporate level -RBS! BHS! BT – I remember when after particularly abysmal performance of the chief exec of the team was still paid his productivity bonus. When questioned on the situation by John Humphrys a spokesperson for the company EO deserved his bonus as he made a plan and stuck to it. When John pointed out that clearly plan hadn’t worked the spokesperson said that wasn’t his fault!

People are also raging about Carillion often refuses to pay suppliers and contractors on time (often giving absurd reasons such as ‘mud slides in India’ apparently!) Big companies have always done this – ask anybody who’s ever been a supplier/subcontractor to a large organisation!

The way in which massive chunks of money were given to a failing company was unbelievable. Size of loss? £1.15 billion! No matter – here’s £1.7 billion of the government contracts.

Of course there is the justifiable outcry about possible loss of 20,000 jobs. But seriously do these people care? I mean those in charge of Carillion who are still taking enormous bonuses and salaries – in the case of the CEO even after resigning due to poor performance! Well, let me say, if they cared for their employees would they really have allowed the pension fund to build up a deficit of £518 million!

None of this will affect these people of course. They are safe and will simply and will amble away with their fortunes and probably just take another post ready to do the same thing again. Meanwhile thousands of innocent people will be badly affected by a culture of corporate greed.

Increased profits! So what ?

Yesterday I heard a triumphant announcement that Next’s sales over the Christmas period had lead to an increase in their share price of 12% and that the profits predictions grew to £747 million.

Later, a consumer program discussion centred around why energy companies insist that customers are always two months in credit. A consultant said that because energy companies pay for energy in advance, they could not afford to be without money upfront from customers. Poor little corporate things.

Now I could go into a anti-privatisation rant here on the basis that if, with all the duplication of management and marketing etc., energy is actually getting cheaper then surely a unified well organised and nationalised energy industry would make it even cheaper ? ….. and yes it would need a new way of encouraging efficiency.

No – today my thought process is more about the changing place of business in our lives. I don’t remember when I was a kid, that we had news like we get these days about profits etc.. It’s almost as if we should be pleased about Next’s increase in profits (though it is, of course, of no benefit to most of us) and take into consideration how difficult it must be for an energy supply company to survive without using money from customers. The consultant said it would be difficult under the companies model – failing to mention that the model is based on profit making. In short, it feels like we the public have been given some sort of responsibility to ensure that business is successful! The energy company has a model in order to be as profitable as it can be and we are expected to accept, and even actually empathise with this – so they then use our money – our credit, which is not for services already rendered, to ensure their profitability.

is that right, in anyway?


It is 3rd Jan and I have just seen an ad. for a saving plan for next Xmas ……..