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Cullum McAlpine to give evidence on blacklisting

Sir Robert McAlpine director Cullum McAlpine will appear before the Scottish Affairs Committee next week as it continues its investigation into blacklisting.

Mr McAlpine was identified as a key member of The Consulting Association by former blacklist boss Ian Kerr in evidence to the committee in November.

Mr Kerr passed away last month but had identified Mr McAlpine as the founding chairman of TCA in more than three hours of evidence to the committee in November.

He also alleged that the contractor had paid his £5,000 fine, handed down to him in 2009 for holding a blacklisting database.

The contractor confirmed it had paid towards his costs at the time and that “when the ICO imposed a fine upon Mr Ian Kerr in 2009, Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd felt it was fair for those companies who had been able to draw on services of The Consulting Association to provide some final support”.  

Meanwhile the London Assembly has called on mayor Boris Johnson to provide evidence of steps taken to ensure blacklisting is not used on Crossrail.

Assembly members agreed a motion which urges the mayor to reject the practice of blacklisting and emphasises the importance of allowing employees to raise health and safety fears in the workplace.

London assembly member for City & East John Biggs, who proposed the motion, said: “The bad practice of employers in the construction industry using blacklisting databases needs to be brought to an end.

“We need clear evidence from the Mayor that Crossrail has not been involved in this practice, both now and in the future. Employees must have the right to bring up health and safety concerns without fear of damage to their livelihoods. The shameful and illegal practice of blacklisting must be in no way linked to Crossrail, especially as this £14.8 billion project is funded by taxpayer money. London must lead the way and be seen to be an exemplary employer.”

A Crossrail spokesperson said: “Crossrail Limited is not aware of, and has seen no evidence of, blacklisting of any kind in connection with the Crossrail project. All contractors working on Crossrail must comply with the Employment Relations Act 1999 (Blacklists) Regulations 2010 which explicitly outlaws the blacklisting of construction workers.  

“Crossrail regards the safety of all those working on the project as paramount and is committed to delivering Crossrail to the highest standards of safety at all times. In fact Crossrail requires all those working on the project to raise any concerns through the reporting systems that are in place.”

Meanwhile Hull City Council has warned it will not award contracts to companies found guilty of blacklisting in future.

The council has passed a motion which states:

A number of construction companies have been challenged about supporting the existence of and subscribing to construction industry ‘blacklists’, which detail covertly and potentially illegally gathered information on trade union members in the construction industry.

Blacklisting is an unacceptable practice and cannot be condoned. The GMB union is leading a national campaign aimed at forcing those who have been involved in blacklisting to apologise and provide compensation to those who have found it impossible to work in construction as a result of this blacklisting.

It is understood that the construction industry blacklist was collated by the Consulting Association (a private consultancy) and was then provided at a cost to construction companies as they sought to recruit/avoid new workers.

The Information Commissioner has investigated and taken action against the Consulting Association for this practice.

Furthermore, the Information Commissioner has taken enforcement action against a number of construction companies based on the evidence recovered from the Consulting Association.

Owing to the concentration of construction activity in and around large cities, many of those alleged to have been discriminated against live in the country’s major cities, and undoubtedly this practice has disadvantaged residents of Kingston upon Hull.

Given the potential impact on residents of this City, the council resolves to support the GMB campaign and, where permitted by legislation, not include companies who continue using this information on our approved suppliers list for all future work.

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