MPs lined up to call for a public inquiry into blacklisting and for Sir Robert McAlpine to be stripped of the contract to refurbish Big Ben during a 5 September parliamentary debate.
Blacklisting company Sir Robert McAlpine has already been paid £3.5m of public money to carry out the enabling works on Big Ben and are in line for another bumper £29m pay-out to complete the 4 year refurbishment project. The human rights of over 3,000 construction workers were breached when they were repeatedly denied work simply for their trade union membership. MPs questioned whether Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, as the driving force behind the blacklist, was the right contractor to be carrying out the works on Big Ben: the symbol of British democratic values.
Shadow minister for labour, Jack Dromey, said: “there has to be consequences for historic blacklisting” adding that “it is a scandal that the iconic Big Ben contract has been given to that company.!
SNP employment spokesperson Chris Stephens MP said: “Blacklisting firms have grown rich on public sector contracts” arguing that is was an ‘act of bad faith by the government that the one of the main perpetrators is being given access to public money.”
The call for Sir Robert McAlpine to be stripped of the Big Ben contract was repeated by numerous MPs including Chuka Umunna throughout the packed Westminster Hall debate.
During the debate, Chuka Umunna presented previously unreported evidence gathered from Freedom of Information Act requests that obtained emails between Crossrail and contractors on the publicly funded project that reveal continuing surveillance of union members. Umunna described the new evidence as “ugly underbelly of this sector that continues to go unaddressed” and repeated the call for a full public inquiry to finally get the truth behind this hidden human rights conspiracy.
Conservative minister Margot James flailed in her attempted defence of the government’s inaction, claiming that the “government take the issue of blacklisting very seriously” but point blankly refused to answer direct questions about the controversial Big Ben contract from Chuka Umunna, Chris Stephens and Jack Dromey.
The blacklisting conspiracy is linked to the undercover police scandal as senior officers from police units engaged in spying on so-called ‘domestic extremists’ attended and gave a PowerPoint presentation at one of the meetings of the illegal Consulting Association. Chaka Umunna said documents “strongly suggests that some of the evidence was supplied with the collusion of the police or the security services,”
Vic Williams, a blacklisted electrician from Leytonstone in east London, said: “Twelve months ago, the big construction companies gave us an apology for their involvement in blacklisting. They were only sorry for getting caught. McAlpine are coining in taxpayers money, they’re laughing at us. If MPs had any moral compass, they’d strip McAlpine of the Big Ben contract”.
Dave Smith, blacklisted construction worker and secretary of the Blacklist Support Group commented: “In all the media coverage of the Houses of parliament construction works, Big Ben was described as the symbol of British democratic values. So how can a company that breached the human rights of thousands of honest construction workers be a suitable contractor for one of the most prestigious construction projects in the world?
“The iconic bell of Big Ben might have fallen silent but blacklisted workers refuse to remain silent until those guilty of orchestrating this national scandal are forced to account for their actions at a public inquiry”.
Sir Robert McAlpine Limited is a major financial donor to the Conservative Party.