Standing up for construction workers – and their safety
After eight years with the Murphy Group, I have formally decided to exit as a main board director of the company. My appointment to Deputy Chairman by my father John Murphy, was a decision he made with confidence and strength. He chose that same moment to publicly announce his long held wish for me to take over the running of the family business.
My father established the company to provide opportunities to migrants arriving in the UK, mainly from Ireland. He believed his colleagues deserved his respect and loyalty. It was a great source of joy for him to see people learn, grow and fulfil their potential. But most of all, he was proud to have created a workplace where barriers to progression were few. The natural extension of my father’s values, in my view, is the development of the Murphy Group into an employee owned structure. It is the people working within this company that have created its success and I believe the future of his legacy is best entrusted into their capable hands. I have been vocal in my belief that leadership of this business must include those working on the ground, if it is to continue to deliver for the clients who have placed their trust in us over the years.
It has been my experience as Deputy Chair of the Murphy Group of construction companies, that safety and quality are inextricably linked. Working safely means assessing the risks and planning the method to be used to carry out the job in hand. Preparing in this way involves taking the time to think through the task in detail before starting. The aim is to anticipate and reduce or remove risk. However this planning process also allows space for ordering the tasks in a way that facilitates the best finish in terms of quality. So, a safer worker creates better quality infrastructure which is in turn safer for the men, women and children who ultimately come to use it.
I have therefore been especially saddened by the involvement in blacklisting by the construction industry and hope that in exiting my position as a director, I may be able to support the efforts of those striving for a fair resolution for the injustice they have suffered.
The 20th November national day of action on blacklisting saw hundreds of events nationwide & those personally affected spoke powerfully at meetings held in Parliament. It was heartbreaking to hear first-hand the way in which this has impacted the lives of the men on the blacklist & their families. As an immigrant my Father was turned away from accommodation in London by the sign “No Dogs, No Blacks, No Irish”. He was excluded from workplaces in this city with notices that “No Irish Need Apply”. Barring people from work on the grounds of race was wrong then, just as it is wrong now for the brave workers who have raised their voices to make building sites safer for everyone.
The call on the 20th November was for companies involved in this practice to ‘own up, clean up and pay up’. The Trades Union Congress and Labour’s Ed Miliband have called for a public inquiry into blacklisting. This campaign deserves our full support. It is not only a construction industry issue: It affects every one of us, every day as we turn the handle of every door.