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Blacklist adjournment debate: blacklisting the blacklisters

In the House of Commons last night, during the adjournment debate on blacklisting in the construction industry, the Government Minister for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs, Mr Pat McFadden, confirmed that the Consulting Association, run by Ian Kerr, will be prosecuted under the Data Protection Act 1998 for compiling its database of blacklisted individuals.

During the debate, Mr McFadden said:

“The practice of blacklisting should be anathema in today’s Britain. It is a relic of the past, and if what has occurred recently in the construction industry is blacklisting rearing its head again, of course we will take that seriously…”

He added:

“Any company, whether it works on public contracts or not, should comply with the law of the land. We expect companies not to break either data protection law or trade union law when planning or undertaking work for the public sector. Of course we recognise that construction companies need to ensure that they recruit the right calibre of person for the job, but there is no need to undertake covert and unfair vetting of the kind that [the Consulting Association] appears to have performed.”

Mr McFadden confirmed that the Information Commissioner is following up the investigation. However, he was not prepared to confirm that companies who are on the list of users of the Consulting Association’s services will be barred from Government contracts (something that was suggested by Mr Devine, MP for Livingston). Those companies are still under investigation by the Information Commissioner and this could lead to further action. Mr McFadden also confirmed that the Government needs to decide whether those companies’ activities fall within section 3 of the Employment Relations Act 1999.

Not all of those present at the debate were happy with the Government’s response. Mr Purchase (MP for Wolverhampton, North-East) suggested he was concerned  with the weakness of the response that the Government was making.

For more information on the blacklisting story, see our previous blog post.

10 thoughts on “Blacklist adjournment debate: blacklisting the blacklisters

  1. The blacklisting ripples are continuing to spread outwards. It was reported yesterday that trade union, UCATT, has withdrawn from pay negotiations because there is deadlock over clauses it wants to be inserted into the industry’s main pay agreement that would make blacklisting of construction workers illegal.

  2. The blacklisting ripples are continuing to spread outwards. It was reported yesterday that trade union, UCATT, has withdrawn from pay negotiations because there is deadlock over clauses it wants to be inserted into the industry’s main pay agreement that would make blacklisting of construction workers illegal.

  3. UCATT claims that Skanska spent £28,122.60 running checks on Ian Kerr’s construction blacklist in 2008. Skanska also allegedly paid a £3,000 annual subscription for access to the database.

    UCATT claims to have seen documents supporting its allegations, claiming that Skanska averaged 35 checks a day last year. If true, this means that Skanska devoted a significant amount of money, time and manpower carrying out these checks.

    Skanska has reportedly assured UCATT that all blacklisting on its sites has ceased and that it will investigate its use of blacklists. However, this is unlikely to placate the union. Alan Ritchie, General Secretary of UCATT, said that:

    “The people responsible should be brought to book. It is right that Skanska are putting their house in order. However, to fully restore the company’s image and to reassure its workforce the findings of the company’s investigation should be made public.”

    According to UCATT, only one of Skanska’s divisions, Construction Public, used the blacklist.

  4. UCATT claims that Skanska spent £28,122.60 running checks on Ian Kerr’s construction blacklist in 2008. Skanska also allegedly paid a £3,000 annual subscription for access to the database.

    UCATT claims to have seen documents supporting its allegations, claiming that Skanska averaged 35 checks a day last year. If true, this means that Skanska devoted a significant amount of money, time and manpower carrying out these checks.

    Skanska has reportedly assured UCATT that all blacklisting on its sites has ceased and that it will investigate its use of blacklists. However, this is unlikely to placate the union. Alan Ritchie, General Secretary of UCATT, said that:

    “The people responsible should be brought to book. It is right that Skanska are putting their house in order. However, to fully restore the company’s image and to reassure its workforce the findings of the company’s investigation should be made public.”

    According to UCATT, only one of Skanska’s divisions, Construction Public, used the blacklist.

  5. On 18 June 2009, BBC Radio Four’s consumer news programme, You and Yours, reported at length on the blacklisting saga. The report included interviews with blacklisted workers and Alan Ritchie, General Secretary of UCATT. For a link to the BBC iPlayer recording of the programme, click here (the report begins 41 minutes and 25 seconds into the programme).

  6. On 18 June 2009, BBC Radio Four’s consumer news programme, You and Yours, reported at length on the blacklisting saga. The report included interviews with blacklisted workers and Alan Ritchie, General Secretary of UCATT. For a link to the BBC iPlayer recording of the programme, click here (the report begins 41 minutes and 25 seconds into the programme).

  7. In September, UCATT published its report on blacklisting in the construction industry, Ruined lives – blacklisting in the construction industry. Click here to read our blog post.

  8. In September, UCATT published its report on blacklisting in the construction industry, Ruined lives – blacklisting in the construction industry. Click here to read our blog post.

  9. Government anti-blacklisting legislation came into force on 2 March 2010. For more information, see PLC Construction’s blog post of 5 March 2010.

  10. Government anti-blacklisting legislation came into force on 2 March 2010. For more information, see PLC Construction’s blog post of 5 March 2010.

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