1,800 more jobs to go at Rok

A further 1,800 redundancies at building services firm Rok were announced by administrators today, bringing total job losses to around 2,600.

The cuts come from the closure of the firm's maintenance and improvements division in the UK and Rok's construction business in Scotland, both of which suffered job losses in the previous week. Other redundancies have come from its plumbing, heating and electrical (PHE) division.

The self-styled "nation's local builder" appointed PwC as administrators last week after it fell into difficulties in meeting its "financial obligations". Only 650 staff remain at the firm.

The Exeter-based firm was hit hard during the financial crisis, when it lost several private and public sector clients and was previously forced to cut some 750 jobs.

Extreme weather conditions hit Rok and the rest of the industry earlier in the year and life worsened for the firm in April, when it said profitability would be hit by a number of "under-performing" contracts in its PHE arm.

Rob Hunt, partner and joint administrator at PwC, said today's redundancies were necessary as it was clear they would not find a buyer for the rest of the maintenance and improvements division and Scottish construction business.

He said: "Operations cannot continue and hence we have had to take steps to close both the maintenance and improvements division as well as the Scottish construction division. We have retained a small workforce to assist us in this process."

Mr Hunt said the remaining staff work within the construction and social housing business in England and PwC are still working to find an interested party.

Rok's woes come 10 weeks after social housing firm Connaught entered administration, leading to some 1,400 redundancies.

Alan Ritchie, general secretary of construction union UCATT, said: "This is a devastating blow for the workers and their families. It is becoming increasingly clear that the Government's spending cuts are having a highly detrimental effect on the construction industry.

"Already this autumn two major construction companies have collapsed and thousands of jobs have been lost. The Government must urgently rethink its spending policies in order to ensure that further high profile corporate failures and major job losses are averted."