Socialist Worker

MPs condemn building bosses over blacklisting

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2349

A new report by MPs has slammed construction bosses for running a blacklist.

Corporations stand accused of “continuing to avoid taking full responsibility for their actions”.

Ian Davidson MP, chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee, said, “We are appalled by what we have discovered.

“We were neither convinced nor impressed by the attitude of the people involved in funding, operating and using this blacklist.”

They condemned the “verbal gymnastics” of construction bosses.

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) raided The Consulting Association (TCA) in 2009.

That raid revealed a database of more than 3,200 names compiled on behalf of more than 44 firms.

The report says, “By the end of TCA’s life it certainly was illegal and all those involved should have known that. We consider it unethical, and to be condemned. 

“We do not accept the argument made in self-justification that blacklisting did not occur because people were not automatically excluded from employment. This is evasive wordplay.”

Bosses from Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, Balfour Beatty and Skanska all gave evidence to the committee. 

The inquiry cast doubt on the  firm’s explanation of the setting up of TCA and another blacklisting company Caprim.

Skanska claim its relationship with TCA was down to one person, Stephen Quant, who has since left the company. 

Implausible

The report says, “It seems implausible that no-one else in the company had the slightest inkling that potential employees or subcontractors were being systematically checked against a database.”

The MPs say that while Balfour Beatty “regrets being caught, we were less convinced that management regretted its involvement with TCA”.

MPs say they are “not persuaded” by company director Cullum McAlpine’s description of his role as being “hands-off”.

The report also criticises the decision of the ICO to seize only 5-10 percent of all the files. 

“We find the ICO’s justification for leaving behind the vast majority of documents at TCA’s office unconvincing,” the report says. “We regret that more documents were not seized." 

Even if the Consulting Association is now defunct, there remains the possibility that its activities could have been more widespread than has so far come to light. 

“A greater degree of curiosity on the ICO’s part might have demonstrated this one way or the other.”

Dave Smith from the Blacklist Support Group told Socialist Worker, “Even with mountains of evidence, construction bosses refuse to admit their guilt. 

“Anyone who bothers to look knows that blacklisting still continues today—on Crossrail the evidence is blatant. 

“So long as blacklisted workers are denied jobs to support our families the weasel words of the multinationals are worthless. We take this personally.

“But we are not helpless victims—we are trade unionists and proud. We intend to pursue these wretches until we finally win justice.”


If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Article information

News
Tue 16 Apr 2013, 19:00 BST
Issue No. 2349
Share this article


Related


Tags



Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.