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Balfour Beatty admits using blacklisting firm on Olympics

Balfour Beatty has confirmed that 12 operatives bidding for work on the Olympic Park were checked through the Consulting Association.

Dennis Hone, chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority, sought assurances in December 2012 from several firms involved that blacklisting checks were not used during the London 2012 build.

The contractor built the Aquatics Centre on the Olympic Park.

Balfour Beatty chief executive Mike Peasland wrote to Mr Hone, saying that in an internal review of employment on the Olympic Park, 12 operatives were found to have been checked through the Consulting Association in 2008.

All 12 were employed after they were check through TCA.

Mr Peasland’s letter continued: “We found no evidence of checks being made with the Consulting Association resulting in denial of employment.”

There was also “no evidence of any other use of the Consulting Association in connection with Olympic projects”, according to Mr Peasland.

Balfour Beatty said it had no knowledge that checks were made by sub-contractors on its contracts at the Olympic Park.

It also said it had found no evidence that employees on other sites transferred onto Olympic Park projects were submitted to a check at the time of transfer, but that “we cannot rule out the possibility that these transferred supervisors and operatives may have been the subject of earlier reference checks with the Consulting Association”.

Mr Peasland re-iterated that Balfour had not used the Consulting Association since its offices were raided in February 2009.

In November, former TCA chief officer Ian Kier named Balfour Beatty, Sir Robert McAlpine and “possibly Skanska” as being involved in Olympic blacklisting, when speaking in front of a Scottish Affairs select committee.

Mr Kerr, who died last month after giving evidence to the committee, said at the time that he “can’t be certain” on the names of the contractors involved.

Responding to Mr Hone’s letter, Sir Robert McAlpine director of operations Tony Aikenhead said: “I specifically confirm that Sir Robert McAlpine Limited was not involved in any blacklisting…. at the Olympic Stadium.”

Skanska HR executive vice president Harvey Francis, meanwhile, responded that “our investigation found no evidence that Skanska used the Consulting Association on any Olympic project and nor did Skanska use any other form of so-called blacklist or covert means of checking those who were allowed on site in relation to any Olympic project.”

In a separate letter to John Biggs at the Greater London Authority, Mr Hone said the London Legacy Development Corporation was setting up a Labour Agency Vendor Accord in partnership with BAM and Balfour Beatty, to regulate recruitment agency practice when providing labour on site.

A spokeseman for Balfour Beatty said:

“It is a matter of public record that Balfour Beatty used the services of the Consulting Association.

“However, Balfour Beatty has not used those services since the Office of the Information Commissioner raided the Consulting Association’s offices in February 2009 as part of its investigation.

“Since 2009 our company Code of Conduct prohibits the checking of references for job applicants without first obtaining their consent and prohibits the use or support of databases of “blacklisted” people and the supply of information to such databases.”

The LLDC has also signed principles of co-operation with the Trades Union Congress, and contractually required all their contractors to comply with Employment Law.

Additionally, the body requires contractors to implement employee representation provisions, including trade union activities, and has contracted Mace as Project Management Partner to monitor compliance.

Shadow business secretary Chuka Ummuna’s response:

“Balfour Beatty’s letter indicates what many had long suspected – that blacklisting checks with the Consulting Association were carried out on workers employed on Olympic Construction sites. It is totally unacceptable that public money was used on projects where blacklisting checks were carried out.  

“It raises questions over how widespread the practice of blacklisting was and the extent to which it still exists. It also underlines the urgent need for a fuller and deeper investigation of blacklisting allegations by government departments and agencies.

“The admission by this company that blacklisting checks were carried out on workers on public projects directly contradicts what Ministers have said in response to my Parliamentary questions on blacklisting in relation to Olympic contracts.

“The ODA needs to explain what action, if any, was taken in relation to suppliers after the blacklisting scandal came to light following the ICO raid on the Consulting Association took place in 2009.”

 

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