Could Interserve follow the privatisation disaster of construction firm Carillion, which collapsed leaving public contracts unfulfilled and putting thousands of people out of work?
Interserve is involved in maintenance of schools, prisons, hospitals and roads and oversees tens of thousands of people on probation. Interserve employs tens of thousands of people in Britain, including many working on contracts with the National Health Service and the Foreign Office.
It's crippled with £500 million of debt and says that if it does not receive more cash it may have to sell off part of its business. The company’s share price plunged to a 30-year low last month.
Unite’s assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The financial difficulties that Interserve finds itself in are another dire warning of the dangers of outsourcing public services for private profit.
“The lessons so painfully learnt by the collapse of Carillion appear in danger of being repeated. If so, this could see the hard-pressed taxpayer picking up the tab yet again.
“The moral is that public services should be provided by the public sector as the record of these outsourcing behemoths has been woeful.
“Unite has 1,200 members working across Interserve. We will be monitoring developments very closely and giving our members maximum support in the coming days.”
Labour has called for Interserve to be banned from bidding for public contracts.
Jon Trickett, shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, said: '"The Government must ensure they are prevented from bidding for public sector contracts until they have proved they are financially stable and there is no risk to the taxpayer."