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June 13, 2012

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MPs’ committee investigates worker blacklisting

Unions are intensifying their efforts to secure a full public inquiry into the blacklisting of individuals deemed by certain companies to be “trouble-makers”.

The growing campaign comes at a time when a parliamentary committee of MPs is investigating blacklisting in employment practices. The Scottish Affairs Select Committee heard evidence yesterday (12 June) from Dave Smith, of the Blacklisting Support Group, as part of an investigation that is expected to look into recent accusations made during employment tribunals, and media reports about links with the Police, and the degree to which blacklisting may have prevailed in the oil and gas sector.

During the session, Mr Smith named and shamed several senior managers and directors from the likes of Carillion, Balfour Beatty Engineering Services, John Mowlem Construction and Sir Robert McAlpine for their involvement in the blacklisting conspiracy.

Mr Smith’s revelations came a day after the GMB union released a new report on the blacklisting of 224 construction workers by Carillion. The names of the individuals, files on whom were kept by the Consulting Association, the firm at the centre of the illegal practice, were released in the course of an employment tribunal earlier this year, when Carillion was accused of blacklisting Mr Smith.

During the tribunal, Carillion admitted that two of its subsidiaries – Carillion (JM) Limited and Schal International Management Limited – had used the services of the Consulting Association and that managers had supplied information to the blacklist about Mr Smith when he was a UCATT safety rep.

The GMB report estimates that from October 1999 to April 2004 Carillion checked at least 14,724 names with the Consulting Association. The report concludes that it has pulled back “the curtain of secrecy to give a glimpse how employers like Carillion have illegally used their power and money to blacklist citizens and to deny them their rights to employment” and shows that “the level of wrongdoing and abuse around this blacklisting is the construction industry’s equivalent of phone hacking by newspapers and is just as serious”.

The union has instructed a law firm to fight for compensation for its blacklisted members.

A spokesperson for Carillion distanced the firm from the GMB’s allegations. He told SHP: “Carillion does not condone or engage in blacklisting. It is not against unions and recognises trade unions for some of its workforce nationally. €

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