Keith Brown declined to say when the Aberdeen bypass would open when he attempted to reassure MSPs that disruption and job losses caused by Carillion’s collapse would be minimised in Scotland.
The Economy Secretary said he was unable to give a “cast-iron guarantee” that jobs would not be lost as a result of the liquidation of the company, but said there was a “good chance” employees would continue to work on existing projects.
Mr Brown made his comments in response to questions tabled at Holyrood following concern about the impact of Carillion’s demise on Scottish infrastructure projects and public sector bodies.
The company was a key contractor working on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR), one of Scotland’s largest roads projects.
Carillion’s list of clients also includes the Registers of Scotland, the Scottish Children Reporter Administration, West Scotland Housing Association and NHS Glasgow and Clyde.
The services firm is also involved in UK Government activity in Scotland including Ministry of Defence bases.
Mr Brown said Scottish Government departments dealing with Carillion had been attempting to mitigate and eliminate risks to contracts since profit warnings were issued in July.
Carillion formed one third of the Aberdeen Roads Ltd (ARL) consortium leading the AWPR work alongside Balfour Beatty and Galliford Try.
Mr Brown said the two remaining partners had committed to delivering the remainder of the project and had “very quickly” notified the Stock Exchange of their intention.
Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles asked the Economy Secretary if the project would be subjected to another delay and asked him the specify which month it would be open to traffic.
Mr Brown said there was “nothing in the nature of the change which has happened that necessitates a delay” but shied away from giving an opening date.
When asked about the future of Carillion employees working on the bypass, Mr Brown said: “I think it is likely that the two remaining contractors will require work to be done that was previously done by the employees of Carillion.
“I don’t want to be too definitive but there’s around 70 plus employees direct employees of Carillion employed on that contract plus 190 employed on other terms, including some agency staff. It may well be the case that coming towards the end of that contract they will have to have all that resource there. Also the UK has said in relation to some of the other contracts that tupe will apply in certain circumstances.
“We can’t give a cast iron guarantee on the workers but I think there is a good chance that many of those will be re-employed and for those that are not we have offered the assistance I have previously mentioned.”
Mr Brown had said the Scottish Government’s Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE), which helps people facing redundancy, would be available for those under threat.
He said PACE would also be available if anyone should lose defence jobs, but directed MSPs to MOD assurances that there should be no direct impact on the Armed Forces of their families.