MPs call for Crossrail blacklisting investigation

The Scottish Affairs Select Committee, which has been running an inquiry into blacklisting in the construction industry, has called on the government to launch an investigation into the practices of the Bam Ferrovial Kier consortium (BFK) on the Crossrail project.

24 Jul 2013| News

Chair of the Committee Ian Davidson has written a letter to Business Secretary Vince Cable following a hearing with Assistant General Secretary of Unite Gail Cartmail, which provided what he described as “compelling evidence” and “clear proof” of continuing blacklisting practices at the site.

“The committee is unanimous in believing that this evidence should be passed to yourselves to be pursued further even while other parts of our enquiry are continuing,” he wrote.

“We intend to continue our wider investigations into blacklisting and will be calling further witnesses but believe that the government should now investigate, as promised, the clear and unequivocal evidence that has been received about blacklisting on the Crossrail project,” Mr Davidson added.

Previously, the Committee has reported feeling unconvinced by the evidence given by companies known to have been involved in blacklisting – including Sir Robert McAlpine, Balfour Beatty and Skanska.

In the Interim Report of the inquiry, Mr Davidson said: “We were neither convinced nor impressed by the attitude of the people involved in funding, operating and using this blacklist. The suggestion that this was somehow not a blacklist at all because people were not automatically refused employment if their name was on the list is ludicrous.”

He has also stated that the Committee remain unconvinced that the companies involved are truly remorseful of their actions, particularly as they continue to fight legal battles against blacklisted workers seeking compensation.

The Coalition has so far refused to investigate current-day blacklisting, stating there was no evidence the practice is ongoing and arguing the current laws provide sufficient protection for workers.

Following Mr Davidson’s recommendation for an investigation, BIS released a statement saying it would refer the case to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – the same organisation that raided the Consultation Association (TCA) in 2009 and found a large blacklist.

But this action has been slammed by construction Union UCATT, which highlighted how ineffective the ICO will be in this case.

“The Information Commissioner’s Office does not have the resources, the ability or the powers to properly investigate blacklisting on Crossrail,” General Secretary of the union Steve Murphy stated.

The Institute of Employment Rights has long been in opposition of this view and believes the practice should be explicitly outlawed and all victims properly compensated.