Blacklisting Scandal Uncovered
A shocking report was published today that exposes the extent that construction companies were involved in illegal activity for over a decade, by blacklisting workers for being in a union or for speaking up about health and safety.
The interim report by the Scottish Affairs Committee reveals damning evidence of the nature of the blacklisting and the extent that companies would go to keep it secret. Entries on the blacklist, held by a shadowy organisation called the “Consulting Association”, reveal that people were being denied work because of an entry that alleged the person had an interest in health and safety. Examples include:
“While at xx, drew H&S issues to the attention of site manager been moved with two others (to avoid suspicion)”
“After taking on showed signs of militancy over safety“.
Yet despite the clear irrefutable evidence of wrongdoing, I sat through evidence sessions where the Chief Executives of construction companies were still denying that they ever blacklisted anyone for anything, let alone for health and safety reasons. The clear message they all gave was that “we would never blacklist anyone for health and safety reasons” and “health and safety is a top priority for us” (even from serial offender Balfour Beatty – see my earlier blog).
In fact even now the companies have shown no sign of remorse. No-one has fully admitted what they did and said they will take action to redress the damage they caused. No-one has shown any sign that they have any regret for destroying the lives of hundreds of workers, in fact quite the opposite. They are fighting tooth and nail so they do not have to pay a penny of compensation for their illegal actions.
The effect that the action of these companies had on safety on constructions is immeasurable. People who were raising health and safety issues, or who were volunteering to become health and safety representatives, found themselves banned from working in the industry.
Many of the companies exposed in the report are household names and between them they hold hundreds of millions of pounds of public sector contracts. We are still putting money into the pockets of these criminals while the government hides its head in the sand and claims that there is no evidence that blacklisting is still going on (of course there isn’t any evidence – they haven’t looked for it).
At least the Scottish Government have gone as far as saying they will work with unions on guidance for future procurement processes and public contracts which is a start.
This is only an interim report and a further report, with recommendations will be published at a later date. You can read what the Committee had to say here.