Former president says RIBA needs to be “very careful” before criticising stricken firms
A former president of RIBA has defended its silence on the recent problems engulfing Austin Smith-Lord and YRM which saw staff made redundant owed thousands of pounds in missing wages.
Sunand Prasad held the top spot at the RIBA for two years between 2007 and 2009 before being succeeded by Ruth Reed.
During their time, Prasad and Reed were critical of companies that refused to pay students the minimum wage and under Reed the RIBA changed its membership rules to clamp down on firms that didn’t stick to the law on wages. Offenders were told that, from last July, they would be struck off if they continued to pay students nothing.
Bdonline has been peppered with comments demanding that RIBA and the Arb do something about staff being laid off by firms such as Austin-Smith Lord and YRM and missing wages, pensions and redundancy pay.
But Prasad said it was much harder for RIBA to pass comment on companies that laid staff off having previously asked them to take wages holidays.
“You have to be very careful before jumping in and criticising a firm in extremis,” he said. “I can easily imagine directors genuinely believing a situation [suspending staff salaries] can be salvageable but it turns out they don’t get the cash they were expecting.”
He said there was “nothing wrong” passing comment on what was acceptable behaviour or not but warned criticising firms who made staff redundant owing them money was fraught with difficulty.
“You have to be very careful before you sound off making high-sounding statements,” he added. “You have to look at it on a case by case basis.”
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