Home >Select committee reports on 'morally indefensible' construction blacklist

Select committee reports on 'morally indefensible' construction blacklist

09 May 2013

The major construction firms that established and funded a systematic blacklist of construction industry workers appear to be continuing to avoid taking full responsibility for their actions, says the Scottish Affairs Committee in an interim report.

The Committee says that while the blacklist was not initially illegal, it was always morally indefensible, and the companies involved continued to use it after it had become illegal.

The companies involved included some of the biggest names in construction including Sir Robert McAlpine - whose claim that its role in the Consulting Association and blacklisting was hands-off was not accepted by the Committee - as well as Skanska and Balfour Beatty. The Committee has so far taken evidence from these three firms and intends to call more of those involved.

Ian Davidson MP, chair of the committee, said: ÒWe are appalled by what we have discovered during our committee hearings. The Consulting Association was an organised conspiracy by big construction firms, to discriminate against workers who raised legitimate grievances over health and safety and other industrial issues.

'This was an exercise run for the financial gain of the companies involved and those who benefited must be held accountable.'

'The companies involved set up the blacklist for their own financial benefit, to avoid the risk ofÊlegitimate industrial relations or health and safety disputes on site resulting in delays to contracts, penalty clauses being invoked and financial loss.'

'While some of the companies have expressed regret and taken steps to establish how this could have been allowed to go on, we are unclear whether they genuinely regret the practice, or more the fact that they got caught.'

The committee is now appealing for evidence under the following four headings before it makes a number of recommendations to the Government:
  • Is blacklisting still taking place, both within the construction industry and more widely, and especially in Scotland?
  • Should compensation be paid, and to whom? Anyone whose name appeared on a blacklist? Those who can prove they were adversely affected by blacklisting? Who should provide the compensation?
  • What penalties are appropriate for those firms and individuals who engaged in blacklisting and who benefited financially from the process, and is it appropriate to introduce a degree of retrospection? In addition, should firms which have been involved in blacklisting be prevented from tendering for public sector contracts in future? Or should they only be allowed to tender if they pay compensation to those who have been blacklisted?
  • Is the existing legislation against blacklisting sufficient, if properly enforced, or do we need changes to the law to eradicate the practice?