Calls for inquiry into construction industry blacklisting

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constructionLabour MPs have said that there should be a full-scale inquiry into allegations of “shameful and insidious” blacklisting of workers on projects such as Crossrail and the Olympics.

Labour’s Michael Meacher said blacklisting was the “worst human rights breach in the UK since the war”.

A raid on offices of the Consulting Association in 2009 uncovered files on 3,200 people, and some building companies have already admitted paying to access the information to identify ‘troublemakers’.

The files included details ranging from employment history to trade union activity and other personal information. Campaigners claimed the list ruined lives by denying people employment.

It has been reported that the vast majority of those blacklisted are still not even aware that information was collated and repeatedly used against them, and Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna, said during a parliamentary debate that what had happened was “nothing short than a national scandal” and workers deserved honesty.

He said:

“There are sufficient questions to justify the Government carrying out a full investigation into the extent blacklisting took place and may still be taking place, at the very least on public sector projects.

“After carrying out the investigation, Government should then set out what practical steps may be needed to stop blacklisting and blacklisting checks happening on public projects in the future.

“We need to learn the full truth of what went on.”

Business Secretary, Vince Cable, said that while blacklisting was “thoroughly objectionable and indefensible”, he wanted evidence that the practice was ongoing before launching a further investigation.

Earlier this week, Cullum McAlpine, a Director of construction firm Sir Robert McAlpine, admitted to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee that his company had undertaken blacklisting checks on candidates seeking work on the Olympic Stadium in 2008.

Speaking to People Management, Linda Clarke, Professor of European Industrial Relations at Westminster Business School, said that there has been a long history of blacklisting in the construction industry.

She commented:

“We have interviewed building workers from the 50s and 60s and all of them talk about blacklisting – in some cases they or their family had been blacklisted.

“A lot of the information on the blacklist involved ‘making a fuss’ about health and safety. It seems totally cavalier that when firms are short of skilled people, instead of listening to them they don’t employ them anymore.”

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