Friday, 18 January 2013

Crossrail & the Blacklist Scandal

THE 2 largest publicly funded construction projects of the past decade, the Olympics and the Crossrail project both find themselves caught up in the very epicentre of the blacklisting scandal. 

After years of denials, firms who built the Olympics Park have finally admitted that they checked names of prospective workers with the illegal Consulting Association blacklist. In a letter sent to the Olympic Development Association chief executive Dennis Hone by Balfour Beatty construction chief executive Mike Peasland, the firm, which built the Olympic aquatics centre has admitted using the services of blacklisting organisation the Consulting Associationin 2008 to check prospective Olympics workers. The admission has been exposed in an article in Building Magazine by investigative journalist Will Hurst. 

Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd and Skanska (responsible for the Olympic Stadium and the Media Centre respectively) have both issued statements denying specific blacklisting on the Olympics project.

A statement for the Blacklist Support Group said:  
'The truth about the Olympics blacklisting is finally being uncovered.'

But even now, both Sir Robert McAlpine and Skanska have denied using the illegal Consulting Association blacklist to check prospective workers on the project. Blacklisted workers have had to listen to decades of lies and denials about the existence of a blacklist of trade unionists in the building industry. many of us tried repeatedly and failed to gain employment on the Olympics project and others who did manage to find a job were quickly removed or dismissed from the Olympics because of the blacklist. Even now, when the evidence in the pubic domain, the companies are still trying to spin the story. 

Between 2008-2009 both Skanska and Sir Robert McAlpine were each invoiced in excess of £28,000 by the Consulting Association for name checks of workers on their sites. This is the highest ever invoices paid by any firm subscribing to the blacklist.

From 2006-2009, David Cochrane, Head of Human Resources at Sir Robert McAlpine Limited was the chairman of the Consulting Association, a post that Stephen Quant, Director of Industrial Relations for Skanska at the time of the Olympics project had previously held.

Sir Robert McAlpine and Skanska please inform us what other major construction jobs they were undertaking during this period that needed so many blacklist name checks? 
The companies explanations are completely implausible and we look forward to when they face questions in the High Court and at the Select Committee investigation into blacklisting. Under no doubt, blacklisted workers intend to continue our fight for justice until these mutli-national firms face justice, apologise and compensate us for this systematic human rights abuse."

Cullum McAlpine, Director of Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd - part of the McAlpine dynasty - first Chairman of the Consulting Association, who personally bought the building industry blacklist from the Economic League and set up Ian Kerr in business is giving evidence to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigation into blacklisting on Tuesday 22nd Jan 2013.

Other blacklisting firms including Skanska, Balfour Beatty, Kier and Carillion are likely to be called to give evidence in the next few weeks. 

Bosses at Crossrail (the largest publicly funded project in Western Europe) are also under attack and have been forced to issue a statement after the Greater London Assembly passed a motion calling for an investigation into whether tax-payers money was being spent on blacklisting on the project. The GLA vote follows widespread concerns about victimisation and blacklisting of workers who raised safety concerns, on the project that has been closed down twice in the past few months during investigations by the Health & Safety Execeutive following major accidents at Holborn and Westbourne Park.

The Crossrail statement quoted in the Newham Recorder says:
"It is simply not true that 28 workers were removed from the project for raising health and safety concerns."

This statement relates to the ongoing Crossrail industrial dispute and Employment Tribunal claims following the removal of 28 UNITE union members who worked for the E.I.S. electrical firm. After E.I.S workers elected union reps who raised concerns about the safety of high voltage cables, the reps were suspended from site and a few weeks later, the E.I.S. contract was unexpectedly finished 3 years early.
The Head of Industrial Relations at Crossrail at the time of the victimisation of the union reps and cancellation of the contract was Ron Baron. Barron has now been sacked by Crossrail after it was discovered that he had Employment Tribunal judgments naming him as a leading blacklister.

The consortium building Crossrail is BFK (Bam - Ferrovial - Kier)

Ferrovial are a Spanish multi-national that owns Stanstead Airport. Bam and Kier are both proven blacklisters of trade unionists having been subscribers to the Consulting Association.

Danny O’Sullivan of Kier was previously the Chairman of the Consulting Association.

Both Crossrail and BFK have been named as respondents in an Employment Tribunal being taken by Frank Morris - blacklisted UNITE union rep. This claim is being brought under the new Blacklisting Regs 2010 that were introduced in the last days of the Labour government. What is different about these Regs is that the claimant doesn't need to be an employee of the company - they apply to any "person" - as Frank Morris did not work directly for Crossrail or BFK but for E.I.S. this will be a test case of how the law is applied.

Crossrail is also expected to be asked to give evidence at the Select Committee in due course.

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