Unite, Britain’s biggest union, has warned that the government has not learnt the lessons of the blacklisting scandals following its response to the Scottish Affairs committee’s recommendations on tackling blacklisting.
The Scottish Affairs committee published its second report on blacklisting entitled Blacklisting in employment: addressing the crimes of the past: Moving towards best practice on 12 March 2014.
But in a recent letter to the committee’s chair, Ian Davidson MP, the government’s minister for employment relations and consumer affairs Jenny Willott rejected the Scottish Affairs committee’s recommendation to promote direct employment in the construction industry. The widespread use of agencies in the construction industry means agency workers do not enjoy the same level of employment rights and this includes protection from blacklisting.
The minister has also failed to appreciate the importance of the committee’s recommendations to ensure that contractors that have had a history of blacklisting demonstrate how they have ‘self-cleaned’ before being allowed to tender for public contracts.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The government is not learning the lessons of the blacklisting scandals. It continues to be very relaxed about the dangers of blacklisting citing a lack of evidence for blacklisting continuing today. But that is exactly what governments said before the blacklisting conspiracy was discovered in 2008 and secret plots by their nature are difficult to uncover.
“That is why we need proactive measures from the government to prevent blacklisting from taking root again. We’re disappointed that the employment minister Jenny Willot has not supported the Scottish Affairs committee’s recommendations on direct employment and self-cleaning. Ensuring construction workers are directly employed and forcing employers who have blacklisted to demonstrate how they have cleaned up their acts would be effective measures to prevent blacklisting.
“There still needs to be a full public enquiry into blacklisting and the activities of major construction employers who still to this day restrict trade union activities in major construction sites, leading to poor practices, health and safety risks and increased fatalities.”
Contact: Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315
Notes for editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.