At the STUC Congress in Perth today (17 April) Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, has called on the Scottish government to use the procurement reform bill to ensure that employers which practice blacklisting are banned from tendering for future public contracts.
Len McCluskey said: "We call on the Scottish government to use public procurement to ensure that those employers who continue to practice blacklisting are banned from tendering for future public contracts. We urge the Scottish government to do the right thing and the Westminster government should act against the blacklisters too, instead of risking embarrassment over its failure to stand up for basic human rights and freedom of association.
"Blacklisting is a scandal that has affected workers and families right across Scotland and the UK. It’s a national disgrace that has ruined lives and indelibly stained our construction industry, its biggest employers and successive governments.
"In Scotland, Unite has been working closely with Neil Findlay MSP and his call for the establishment of an independent public inquiry into blacklisting in Scotland.
"We believe it’s unacceptable for the SNP to play the waiting game, saying it will follow developments at Westminster closely and that ‘allegations can’t be bandied around, so we must proceed with caution’, when the SNP can act now.
"We know that ministers have admitted firms involved in the Forth Replacement Crossing consortium were identified by the Information Commissioner's Office as having been subscribers to the blacklisting organisation called the Consulting Association.
"We also know that the firms who established and funded the Consulting Association continue to avoid responsibility for their actions – no remorse, business as usual. If construction companies are committed to ending blacklisting then they should show it by employing blacklisted workers and give them a livelihood once more."
Unite has welcomed the Scottish affairs committee's interim report on blacklisting, which has begun to shine a light on the dark side of Britain's construction industry. The committee is concerned that the industry has not wholly disclosed the extent of blacklisting across the construction industry. Unite is pleased that it will be invited to give more evidence to the committee along with its sister union Ucatt in the near future.
The union is convinced that blacklisting continues in the industry; 18 of the known 37 contacts for the blacklisting organisation the Consulting Association are engaged with companies on Crossrail, the biggest construction project in Europe.
Unite is giving Frank Morris, a construction worker sacked from the Crossrail project, legal support at an employment tribunal. The tribunal will have to answer whether Frank is the victim of a blacklisting conspiracy by the construction consortium Bam Ferrovial Kier (BFK) which is engaged on the Crossrail project.
Contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.