Blacklisters ‘named and shamed’

The Blacklist Support Group has ‘named and shamed’ the top construction company bosses that have chaired The Consulting Association. They have also named the construction industry’s ‘main contacts’ with the illegal covert blacklister.

BSG is seeking to ‘blacklist the blacklisters’. It wants to know:

  • where are they working now?
  • are they involved in publicly funded contracts?
  • have any union reps had the misfortune of negotiating with them?

Chairs of The Consulting Association

Full list of the company Directors that chaired The Consulting Association

1993-96    Cullum McAlpine – Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd

1997-99    Tony Jennings – Laing O’Rourke

2000-01    Danny O’Sullivan – Kier

2002-03    Stephen Quant – Skanska

2004-05    Trevor Watchman – Balfour Beatty

2006-09    David Cochrane – Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd

‘Main contacts’ for The Consulting Association

Full list of Human Resources and Industrial Relations Directors who were the “main contact” between the construction companies and The Consulting Association.

Sir Robert McAlpine:  David Cochrane

Costain:  Trevor Spice, Geoff Hughes, Ken Ward

Carillion:  Liz Keates

Tarmac:  Liz Keates

Crown House: Liz Keates, Roy Hay, Dianne Hughes

Skanska:  Stephen Quart, John Dickinson

Balfour Kilpatrick:  Gerry Harvey, Elaine Galagher, Paul Raby, Arma Johnston

Balfour Beatty Major Projects:  Trevor Watchman

Balfour Beatty Construction:  Ann Cowrie

Balfour Beatty Scottish & Southern:  Vince James

Haden Young:  Carolyn Williams

Morgan Estate:  Steve McGuire

Amec: Arnold Nestler

Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Services:  John Dangerfield

HBG Construction:  Richard Bull, Paul McCreath

Kier:  Danny O’Sullivan, Kathy Aimansoor:

Vinci:  Alan Audley

Nuttall:  Bridget May

Bam Nuttall:  Pat Swift

Cleveland Bridge UK:  Lynne Day

Shepherd Engineering Services:  Lisa Stevenson

NG Bailey:  Murray Reid

CB & I: Ron Barron

Encor: Iain Coates

SIAS Building Services:  John Stoddart

Laing O’Rourke:  Liz Keates, Sylvia Smith, Lisa O’Mahoney

Rosser & Russell:  Harry Pooley

Mowlem:  Alf Lucas

Whessoe:  Roy Knight

Different names, same blacklist

More than half of the country’s leading construction firms were still using The Consulting Association’s illegal covert blacklisting service when it was shut down in 2009, paying a £3,000-a-year subscription plus £2.20 for each blacklist check. Major firms, called to appear before an ongoing Scottish Affairs select committee inquiry into blacklisting, have admitted they used blacklisting services in the past. But they all say it is a practice they no longer support.

But we’ve been here before, reports Hazards magazine. In the 1980s, the Economic League – the blacklisting predecessor of The Consulting Association – was the subject of campaigns by grassroots groups including the Construction Safety Campaign. Employers denied then the existence of the organisation or blacklisting.

Following a parliamentary inquiry in 1990, The Economic League’s activities were exposed and in 1993 the discredited organisation shut up shop.

But it didn’t disappear entirely. Instead, two daughter organisations, TCA and Caprim Ltd, emerged, both supported by UK construction giant Sir Robert McAlpine and both headed by former employees of the Economic League. TCA specialised in surveillance of construction workers, but activists in associated industries, including rail and offshore, as well as environmental campaigners, were also in its crosshairs.

Caprim – which folded voluntarily in 2009 following the TCA closure – had different priorities, briefing firms in the agrochemical, arms and pharmaceutical industries. Clients included Monsanto, Glaxo-Smith Kline, Rhone Poulenc, Rio-Tinto and JP Morgan.

In recent months, the former heads of both blacklisters, Jack Winder at Caprim and Ian Kerr at TCA, admitted at the select committee to liaising regularly with senior police officers.

The Blacklist Support Group (BSG), formed in 2009 after TCA’s activities were exposed (Hazards 107), is spearheading legal actions to get compensation for affected workers and to get a formal investigation into the practice, including complicity by the police with illegal blacklisting organisations. Its campaign, which has gained national prominence and is now backed by the Labour Party leadership and trade unions, is ensuring the issue doesn’t go away.

BSG says recent experiences with the London Olympics and the Crossrail project – which TCA’s Ian Kerr confirmed in 2012 had used its services – mean it is not going to be taken in by a second round of assurances by the government and former blacklist users that the practice had been discontinued.

Even the industry concedes the blacklist was used on recent major projects. Following a similar admission by Balfour Beatty’s top brass, Sir Robert McAlpine director Cullum McAlpine told MPs at a hearing of the select committee on 22 January 2013 that his firm had used TCA’s services to vet Olympics site workers.

Crossrail and BFK must answer blacklisting charges

A worker on the Crossrail project who believes he was blacklisted because of his union and safety activities has won the right to challenge his sacking. London Central Employment Tribunal ruled on 27 February that both Crossrail and contractor Bam Ferrovial Kier (BFK) should appear in court to answer the allegations that Unite safety rep Frank Morris was unfairly dismissed in September 2012 from Europe’s biggest construction project.

The Scottish Affairs select committee heard last month that top BFK managers had high level links with covert blacklister The Consulting Association (TCA). In November 2012, TCA chief Ian Kerr admitted to MPs that high ranking managers involved in the Crossrail project attended TCA meetings.

Frank Morris said: “I have always felt sure that my removal from site was due to the blacklist. It has now come to light that the two top human resources (HR) managers on the project at the time of my sacking are proven blacklisters, who spent many hours at TCA meetings deciding a strategy to keep unions off of Crossrail. My sacking was part of that strategy.”

His claim was strengthened by evidence that has been uncovered during the ongoing Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigation into blacklisting.

Ron Barron, the recently departed head of human resources at Crossrail, has a previous Employment Tribunal judgment against him for blacklisting and was the main contact with TCA for his previous employer, CB&I. The Blacklist Support Group has said his departure from Crossrail amounts to “an admission of wrongdoing.”

In February 2013, the Select Committee released evidence identifying Pat Swift, BFK’s current head of human resources on the Crossrail project, as the main contact between BAM Nuttall and TCA. MPs also heard that Keir’s Danny O’Sullivan is a former TCA chair.

Speaking ahead of Frank Morris’ successful tribunal hearing, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Unite does not subscribe to the view that blacklisting in the construction industry ended when the existence of the shady blacklister The Consulting Association was finally uncovered back in 2009. There is significant evidence that blacklisting continued, even on Crossrail – Britain’s most high profile construction project.”

He added: “Frank Morris has our full support. Blacklisting is a national scandal and Unite is determined to support its members. Too many construction workers have had their lives ruined just because they had concerns over health and safety in one of Britain’s most dangerous industries or just because they belonged to a trade union.

“There needs to be a full and transparent investigation, backed by statutory powers, into all the allegations associated with the sordid spying enterprise called the Consulting Association.”

The claim is being brought under Blacklisting Regulations introduced in April 2010. The Blacklist Support Group says that although many historic blacklisting claims have lost at Employment Tribunals because the claimants were not direct employees, the new regulations do not require the claimant to be an employee. It adds the Crossrail case will be seen as a test of the robustness of the regulations.

The firms’ next court appearance will be 8 April, for a case management discussion.