We need a public inquiry into blacklisting

28th November, 2012 3:00 pm

Last month I wrote an article for LabourList explaining the background to the blacklisting scandal in the construction industry and calling for a public inquiry to ensure that the blacklisted victims receive justice. Today I am renewing that call.

In the space of a few weeks the blacklisting saga has moved forward rapidly.

Jim Kennedy UCATT’s National Political Officer and I gave evidence to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee on October 30th, as part of their inquiry into blacklisting. During our evidence we revealed how the Consulting Association’s (the organisation which undertook construction blacklisting) invoices revealed that the blacklisting activity of construction company Sir Robert McAlpine increased dramatically, when they began building the Olympic Stadium in the summer of 2008.

Last week the joint unions involved in the blacklisting campaign GMB, Unite and UCATT wrote to all Labour MPs, providing details about how they could contact the Information Commissioner’s Office to check whether they had been blacklisted. This week (Tuesday 27th November), Ian Kerr the Chief Officer of the Consulting Association, who is the only person convicted of blacklisting and then only for data protection offences, gave evidence to the Select Committee.

Kerr’s evidence was illuminating as he described how the Consulting Association conducted its operations but it also raised many further questions.

On one point he was clear – blacklisting did take place on the Olympics before the Consulting Association was shutdown. Kerr said: “Robert McAlpine, Balfour Beatty and possibly Skanska” were involved in blacklisting workers on the Olympics.

He also confirmed that blacklisting was also regularly undertaken on many PFI hospital projects and that at the time of the Consulting Association’s demise, talks were ongoing about how blacklisting would operate on Crossrail.

Kerr’s confession demonstrates beyond doubt that taxpayers’ money which construction companies should have been using to build the Olympics and other major public projects, was being siphoned off to pay for the blacklisting of workers.

One of the greatest causes of concern has been the revelations that information received from the police and the security forces was used to blacklist workers. Kerr drew light on this by saying that he had not directly colluded with the police and the security forces and that this information had been provided to him by the main contacts in the construction companies.

Kerr also alluded to special attention being applied to Irish nationals, a huge section of the construction industry, seeking work on Ministry of Defence projects.

This raises further serious questions about how and why senior people at the blacklisting construction companies were involved in receiving and passing information about construction workers with the police and the security forces. We need answers about just how far the state was involved in colluding with the blacklisters and ruining the lives of construction workers.

Kerr also revealed for the first time that blacklisting was not confined to trade unionists and left-wing activists. A separate file was established on environmental activists following the high profile campaigns to block new roads including at Twyford Downs and the M11 extension.

UCATT has always believed that the Consulting Association was not the only blacklisting organisation in construction.

Kerr confirmed that he was aware of at least one other organisation that ran a blacklisting operation and that other “individuals had accrued information”. Kerr also said that he believed that blacklisting was continuing “in some form or another.”

Given these revelations it is essential that the whole truth of this scandal which ruined the lives of many construction workers is revealed once and for all.

UCATT are currently lobbying MPs to sign Early Day Motion 609 tabled by Steve Rotheram which calls for a public inquiry into blacklisting and for blacklisting to become a specific criminal offence.

Further details about the blacklisting scandal and information about how to contact your MP to ask them to sign the EDM can be found at www.ucatt.org.uk/blacklisting.

It only takes a minute to contact your MP and help finally win justice for the blacklist victims.

Steve Murphy is the General Secretary of UCATT


  • Comment Full text of Momentum’s draft letter to Labour MPs about airstrikes on Syria

    Full text of Momentum’s draft letter to Labour MPs about airstrikes on Syria

    Momentum, the pressure group founded out of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign, is urging its supporters to send this letter to Labour MPs. I am writing to you as a Labour voter to urge you to oppose Tory proposals for the UK to join military action in Syria against ISIL/Daesh. I am sure we would both like to see the defeat of both ISIL and the Assad regime – but it is not clear that this is an achievable aim. The military […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Full text of Jeremy Corbyn’s letter to Labour MPs about airstrikes on Syria

    Full text of Jeremy Corbyn’s letter to Labour MPs about airstrikes on Syria

    Dear Colleague, The Prime Minister made a Statement to the House today making the case for a UK bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria. A copy of my response has already been circulated. We have all been horrified by the despicable attacks in Paris and are determined to see the defeat of ISIS. Our first priority must be the security of Britain and the safety of the British people. The issue now is whether what the Prime Minister is proposing […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Corbyn tells Labour MPs he cannot support airstrikes on Syria

    Corbyn tells Labour MPs he cannot support airstrikes on Syria

    Jeremy Corbyn has written to Labour MPs today to say he cannot support airstrikes against Isis in Syria. The Labour Leader wrote that he remains unconvinced that they would make Britain safer or contribute toward a comprehensive negotiated political settlement in Syria. His letter comes after David Cameron tried to persuade MPs of the case for military action this morning. Corbyn’s stance puts him at odds with senior members of the Shadow Cabinet, which met to discussed the issue after […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Join the Labour team in marching for climate justice and jobs

    Join the Labour team in marching for climate justice and jobs

    By Barry Gardiner MP and Clive Lewis MP On Sunday 29 November, on the eve of the international climate change talks in Paris, the Labour DECC team will be joining tens of thousands of people on the world’s biggest ever climate demonstration. It comes amidst a Conservative Government unleashing the biggest and most systematic assault on environment policy in decades. Whether slashing support for renewable energy and energy efficiency to boosting support and tax breaks for fossil fuels, it has […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Sleight of hand is no way to run an economy

    Sleight of hand is no way to run an economy

    The Chancellor giveth, and the Chancellor taketh away. And taketh away, And taketh away. Don’t be fooled. While the abandonment of Tax Credits cuts is to be welcomed – and should be rightly lauded as a genuine victory for Labour’s leadership – it is not enough. And if the Godot-like Universal Credit is ever rolled out, proposed cuts to that mean this is a delaying of pain, not a end to the problem. Now it may be that the widely panned, […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends