Building firm Skanska, the construction giant that last year ran up the largest single bill for use of The Consulting Association’s blacklisting services, has resorted to a novel defence of the illegal practice. It claims it used the blacklist of construction workers to vet employees for a history of violence and drug or alcohol abuse – a claim dismissed out of hand by those who have obtained their files.
Harvey Francis, executive vice-president for human resources (HR), told People Management magazine that it had subscribed to the list, which contained confidential details of 3,213 construction workers, “to ensure the safety of people working on our sites” – not to blacklist people on the grounds of trade union membership as reported in the press.
“Health and safety in construction is of paramount importance,” he said. “While I’m not excusing [using the blacklist], this was also a way of trying to keep the sites safe.”
Francis said Skanska had “taken every possible step” to ensure the practice was abolished at the firm, which has 5,500 UK staff, beginning with an internal investigation led by HR. This revealed that Skanska, which was invoiced more than £20,000 in 2008 by the Consulting Association, “inadvertently inherited” use of the service through company acquisitions.
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