Site firms scoop blacklisting awards

BAD TASTE Blacklisted construction workers reminded construction industry black tie revellers at the UK National Building Awards 2010 of their distasteful habits.
BAD TASTE Blacklisted construction workers reminded construction industry black tie revellers at the UK National Building Awards 2010 of their distasteful habits.

Campaigners from the Blacklist Support Group provided some extra entertainment at the swish National Building Awards 2010 dinner at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.

The campaign presented its own alternative Blacklister of the Year Awards as the construction industry revellers assembled for the 22 April black tie event.

Balfour Beatty won the category for “Most Enforcement Notices Issued by the Information Commissioner,” with a soaraway 14 notices.

Skanska headed the “Largest Blacklisting Invoice” category, with £28,123 in one year, pipping Sir Robert McAlpine’s £26,842 in payments to covert blacklisting group The Consulting Association.

The former head of the association, Ian Kerr, bagged the “Lifetime Achievement Award.”

A special category, the “Hear No Evil See No Evil Speak No Evil Award”, went to Skanska for its three month internal blacklisting investigation that found no-one in management did anything to merit even a verbal warning.

Safety watchdog the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) received an honourable mention in this category.

Law professor Keith Ewing of Kings College London welcomed the awards.

He said: “Blacklister of the Year is an important initiative to remind those attending the National Building Awards of the scandal that hangs over their industry. 

“While the fat cats purr with delight at their lavish black tie banquet in the Grosvenor House Hotel, they need to be confronted – in what is an era of austerity for everyone else – about their role in ruining the lives of thousands of British construction workers.”

Skanska’s desperate ruse to evade blacklist blame

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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Britain: Skanska promises to stop blacklisting

Site union UCATT has won a commitment from construction multinational Skanska that no form of blacklisting will be tolerated on their sites and that an investigation will be launched into their past conduct.
UCATT news releaseThe ObserverContract JournalRisks 408 • 30 May 2009