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Blacklist The Blacklisters Says Scottish Affairs

Friday, March 14, 2014

No Public Contracts Call By Scottish Affairs Committee Where Construction Firms Fail To Apologise Compensate Blacklisted Victims

GMB welcome this stand by UK Parliamentary body as 621 out of 653 MEPs in the European Parliament vote on 12th March to make blacklisting illegal under EU law.

GMB, the union for construction workers, commented on the report from the Scottish Affairs Select Committee saying that construction firms that blacklist, or do not make proper reparations for past blacklisting, should be denied public contracts. See notes to editors for copy of press release issued by the Committee under embargo.

Blacklisting in the UK came to light when in 2009 the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) seized a Consulting Association database of 3,213 construction workers and environmental activists used by 44 companies to vet new recruits and keep out of employment trade union and health and safety activists.

So far 467 out of the 3,214 on the list know they are on blacklist. Several hundred of these 467 are covered by claims in the High Court. ICO planned to contact direct 1,200 after using their national insurance details to get a current address. That will leave 1,546 still to trace.

Last October eight blacklisting companies (Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI PLC) went some way towards an apology and talks are under way on compensation to the victims they blacklisted.

On 27th November particulars of claim were served in the High Court in the GMB legal action against Carillion and other for blacklisting GMB members. A further hearing is due in April.

Justin Bowden GMB National Officer said: "For two years GMB campaigned for the Blacklisters to be blacklisted and we very much welcome the call from Scottish Affairs Committee for this to happen if the construction companies like Carillion fail adequately to apologise to, and compensate their victims. 

The position of the all-party Committee could not be any clearer: that local, regional and national government should not spend a penny more of taxpayer’s money with any company guilty of blacklisting - past, present or future - who has not self-cleansed.

GMB welcome this stand by our elected representatives in the UK and EU. Yesterday (12th March) no less than 621 out of 653 MEPs voting in the European Parliament backed measures to ensure that blacklisting is illegal under EU law. Earlier this week it was Islington Council. Companies involved in this scandalous practice have nowhere to hide.”

Contact  Kathleen Walker Shaw 07841 181 549 or GMB press office 07921 289880

Justin Bowden on 07710 631351 or Maria Ludkin 07956 632 657 or GMB press office at 07921 289880 or 07974 251 823. GMB Scotland Richard Leonard 07703 465447 or Wales Martin Hird 07809 769378

For Leigh Day: David Standard 07540 332717 or Michael Newman 0795 223 9358 or Chris Benson on 07795425649.

The people on blacklist should call Phil Read at GMB on 07840 897997 or email him blacklisted@gmb.org.uk

Notes to editors

Embargo: not to be published or broadcast in any form before 00.01 Friday 14th March

BLACKLIST THE BLACKLISTERS, SAYS SCOTTISH AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

Construction firms that blacklist, or do not make proper reparations for past blacklisting, should be denied public contracts

In a report published today, Friday 14 March 2014, Parliament's Scottish Affairs Committee sets out how firms that have been caught blacklisting can make amends and how best practice can be taken forward to ensure that blacklisting is not allowed to reoccur. It also says any firms that do not take the appropriate steps should be barred from gaining any publicly funding work.

The Committee's previous report on blacklisting demonstrated the existence of an organised conspiracy by some construction firms to deny employment to those workers seen as troublemakers, often because of their pursuit of trade union and health and safety issues.

The Committee says that just ending blacklisting is not enough. Firms that have been caught blacklisting must undertake a process of 'self-cleaning', including an admission of guilt, paying full compensation and taking other appropriate remedial steps.  It is key that the levels of restitution should not be solely for the companies themselves to determine, but must be agreed after negotiations with the relevant trade unions and representatives of blacklisted workers. There is a further issue in that many of those who were blacklisted have not yet been contacted and made aware of their status, and the Committee is still investigating ways in which 100% notification can be achieved.

Going forward, a new framework of standards for contracts should be developed which would be applied to all publicly funded work.  The Committee has identified the contracts agreed between trade unions and EDF for the construction of its Hinkley Point C nuclear power station as being best practice for the industry. In particular the mechanisms they have developed for ongoing monitoring and reporting procedures for health and safety, as well as the commitment to direct employment and the establishment of an employment brokerage for all jobs on the site, should be adopted as standard throughout the public sector and for all publicly funded projects.

Ian Davison MP, Chair of the Committee, said: "Had these companies not been caught, blacklisting would still be happening, and indeed we have heard evidence that it is still going on in some areas. Although blacklisting is illegal now, it is not enough to just end the practice. Reparations must be made, and steps must be taken so that we are pro-actively preventing these practices -  and the health and safety problems they lead to - rather than just stopping it when it happens. Companies that are caught blacklisting now, or do not make the proper reparations, or do not apply agreed standards of practice in their contracts, should be "blacklisted" themselves and barred from obtaining any publicly funded work.

"It is impossible to fully quantify the damage that may have been done to people's careers and livelihoods, and to their families, as well as to health and safety on site, by these practices, but restitution must be made. It must not be left just to the companies themselves to determine what this should be, but it must be agreed after negotiations with the relevant trade unions and representatives of blacklisted workers. It must also be applied to all the victims of blacklisting who have yet to be identified, and where the victim has died, compensation must go to their families.

"We want to pay tribute to both the Welsh Government, who have taken a clear and unequivocal ethical stance on this issue and provided a political lead which many other bodies in the public sector have subsequently followed, and to the activists of the Blacklisting Support Group, who have fought over a long number of years to maintain this issue in the public eye and to seek recognition for the injustices experienced by so many working people.

"The role of Governments, UK, devolved and local, is absolutely crucial in encouraging and enforcing best practise and in driving out blacklisting. We will now be writing to the Coalition government , to the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments and to local authority associations, urging them to adopt our proposals and to use their financial power to ensure that  blacklisting is abolished,  direct employment is made mandatory and that health and safety is given ever greater priority." /ENDS

Notes to eds:

Media Enquiries to Jessica Bridges-Palmer: 020 7219 0724 / 07917 488 489 / bridgespalmerj@parliament.uk<mailto:bridgespalmerj@parliament.uk>

For full details of the inquiry into blacklisting: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/scottish-affairs-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/blacklisting-in-employment/

Committee Membership is as follows: Mr Ian Davidson MP (Lab/Co-op, Glasgow South West) (Chair), Mike Crockart MP (Liberal Democrat, Edinburgh West), Jim McGovern MP (Lab, Dundee West), Graeme Morrice MP (Lab, Livingston), Pamela Nash MP (Lab, Airdrie and Shotts), Sir Jim Paice MP (Con, South East Cambridgeshire) Simon Reevell MP (Con, Dewsbury), Mr Alan Reid MP (LD, Argyll and Bute), Lindsay Roy MP (Lab, Glenrothes), and Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP (SNP, Banff and Buchan)

Media Enquiries: Jessica Bridges-Palmer: 020 7219 0724 / 07917 488 489
Committee Website: http://www.parliament.uk/scotaffcom
Watch committees and parliamentary debates online: www.parliamentlive.tv<http://www.parliamentlive.tv/>
Publications / Reports / Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474). Committee reports, press releases, evidence transcripts, Bills; research papers, a directory of MPs, plus Hansard (from 8am daily) and much more, can be found on www.parliament.uk<http://www.parliament.uk/>.

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