Kier's £221m maintenance deal reaches completion

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The Independent Online

Kier, the construction group that brought King's Cross station's Grade I-listed barrel-vaulted roof back to life, completes its £221m acquisition of pothole repair-to-rubbish truck maintenance firm May Gurney today.

The combined entity will have revenue of £2.8bn, work for 65 local authorities and employ 16,000 staff. The group will also repair 900,000 council homes every year and look after half-a-million streetlights.

Financially, the key benefits are savings through eradicating overlaps between the two groups, such as stripping out back office functions. These typically include areas like human resources and IT.

Kier beat rival Costain to snaffling Norwich-based May Gurney in a deal that has proved unpopular with some union members. Kier was one of several big name construction groups that in 2009 were found to have used the services of The Consulting Association.

This was a company that ran and updated the secret 'blacklist', a database of more than 3,200 workers. Construction groups used the TCA to vet potential workers without their knowledge, though the details often proved false and are claimed to have ruined lives and even marriages as they struggled to earn a living.

Last month the GMB union lodged a High Court action against a group of construction companies, which alleges unlawful conspiracy against Sir Robert McAlpine and Carillion, firms that built the London 2012 Olympic stadium and the Tate Modern respectively. Kier is also named, but is being sued for the lesser claim of defamation.

Although Kier has pointed out that any blacklisting is now "historic", this has not prevented union demonstrations taking place at a number of May Gurney sites in recent months over the prospect of a merger. Unite members protested outside a waste depot in Chester and another group waved flags and banners against the backdrop of a giant inflatable rat outside the East Anglia head office.