Anger over phone sackings at Connaught

More than 2,500 jobs at the troubled building services firm Connaught were saved yesterday when a rival agreed to take on parts of its social housing division. But the sacking of several hundred more workers by phone prompted outrage.

The more fortunate Connaught workers are those who will transfer to Morgan Sindall, which yesterday said it was paying £28m to take on contracts. In total, Connaught's social-housing division employs 4,500 staff and KPMG, its administrator, said it was still hopeful it might be able to secure more jobs.

However, the firm yesterday announced 700 redundancies at the business and admitted it had been forced to break the news of around 200 of those job losses by phone.

That prompted anger among many staff, with one union activist complaining: "They should be called KGB not KPMG for the way they have conducted themselves."

Alan Ritchie, general secretary of the UCATT trade union, said that while the Morgan Sindall deal was good news, the workers sacked by phone and been "treated quite disgracefully" and warned that "the remaining Connaught staff remain in complete limbo".

However, KPMG's Brian Green said the firm had found itself with no choice but to let some staff go by phone. "While the administrators made every effort to communicate with staff in person, the large number of staff and wide geographic spread necessitated a series of phone calls to ensure staff were informed of redundancies as soon as possible."

The social-housing business accounts for around half of Connaught's activities, with two other subsidiaries – Connaught Environmental and Connaught Compliance – continuing to trade normally, employing 4,500 staff between them.