Blacklist Support Group statement

The Blacklist Support Group raises a glass to salute the work of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee.

Blacklisted workers have put up with decades of mud slinging, excuses and outright lies from the construction firms. The Select Committee interim report, published in 16 April, cuts through all the “verbal gymnastics” and using parliamentary language both exposes the human rights conspiracy and pours scorn on the pathetic excuses of those who ran the illegal blacklist.
The so-called captains of industry are in complete denial. Even with mountains of evidence they refuse to admit their guilt. They are like the News International at the beginning of the phone hacking scandal.
Blacklisted workers applaud the Select Committee interim report but just like phone hacking, the full story of the human rights abuse by big business and undoubted police collusion will only be exposed in a full Leverson style pubic inquiry.
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 multi-nationals are worthless. The interim report is a big step forward but the campaign for justice continues.

The Blacklist Support Group demand:

  • A full public apology
  • Compensation for blacklisted workers
  • No public contracts for blacklisting firms
  • Jobs for blacklisted workers on major projects

Extracts from the Scottish Affairs Select Committee below:

For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to make it absolutely clear that we believe, on the evidence that we have seen so far, that the process of blacklisting by a secret and unaccountable process was and is morally indefensible and that those firms and individuals involved in operating the system should have known this.
We are far from certain that all of our witnesses have told us ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’, despite many of them being under oath.
We firmly believe that the issue of blacklisting is an important one and requires wider scrutiny than can be pursued by specific legal actions.
It is very clear to us that the service which the Consulting Association offered was a blacklisting one: that is, subscriber companies put information into and took information out of a database, and they used the information on that database to make decisions about whether or not to employ certain individuals. We concede that the legislative framework meant this was not initially illegal, and it was a service which the Economic League had performed for many years—but by the end of TCA’s life it certainly was illegal and all those involved should have know 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.
We find the ICO’s justification for leaving behind the vast majority of documents at TCA’s office unconvincing. We accept that the ICO was concerned that the warrant which it had obtained was limited in scope, but 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. .
Another problem, demonstrated by Dave Smith’s employment tribunal against Carillion, is that employers seem to be able to evade responsibility for the employees of subcontractors. This seems, prima facie, deeply unfair. If a company discriminates against a worker on the basis of data improperly (let alone inaccurately) held, that company should be liable for any loss of earnings suffered. We recommend that the Government reviews this as a matter of urgency.

Postscript: Unions have welcomed the report

GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said: “What we see here in the plain light of day are major construction companies involved in shifty, unethical, dishonest practices for which they seem totally unable to apologise and take responsibility.”

The Unite union said the committee had “begun to shine a light on the dark side of the construction industry”.

General secretary Len McCluskey said: “Unite firmly believes blacklisting continues and the only way to eradicate this morally indefensible practice is to strengthen legislation against blacklisting to give the law real teeth.”

Blacklist demo targets Skanska’s Stockholm AGM

From 3pm to 5.30pm CET, Thursday 11 April 2013
Outside Skanska AB Annual Shareholders’ Meeting at Berwhaldhallen, Dag Hammarskjölds väg 3,Östermalm, Stockholm, Sweden.

UK protesters against the construction blacklist are to target the annual general meeting of Swedish construction multinational Skanska. An 11 April demonstration, led by the union GMB and the Blacklist Support Group, aims to enlist support from the company’s shareholders and the Swedish public. Blacklisted workers will hold meetings with Swedish construction unions on 10 April.

The campaigners says despite acknowledging its role as one of the principal blacklisters of UK site workers – the firm told MPs in March it regretted its role in the scandal – Skanska has to date failed to compensate any affected workers.

Speaking ahead of the protest, GMB national officer Justin Bowden said: “Skanska appeared in front of the UK Parliamentary Select Committee into Blacklisting just last month and said how deeply they regretted their ‘inexcusable’ role in the blacklisting of 3,213 construction workers and green activists.

“From 1996/7 to 2008/9 Skanska and its predecessors spent £216,000 with blacklisting body The Consulting Association. This was second only to the £220,000 spent by McAlpine. As it cost £2.50 to check a name, Skanska checked an awful lot of names. However Skanska has refused to pay a single penny in compensation. Indeed they have said that they will fight any legal action against them.”

He added: “GMB is travelling to Stockholm to alert the Swedish people and the shareholders of Skanska of such double standards. GMB wants the managers Skanska employed to be told that the building workers and their families, whose lives they ruined, must be compensated.”