A committee of MPs has accused contractors of deliberately misleading victims of blacklisting, slamming them as “callous and manipulative”.
In a damning report on the blacklisting scandal, the Commons Scottish affairs committee called for the government to launch a public inquiry in to “the extent and breadth of the practice” and whether it is still ongoing.
MPs criticised The Construction Workers Compensation Scheme, set up by eight of the 30 contractors known to have used former blacklisting service The Consulting Association.
They said the group of eight leading contractors attempted to launch TCWCS without the agreement of trade unions and then attempted “to mask that fact”.
“The eight companies’ behaviour demonstrates a lack of good faith and a parsimony of spirit”
Scottish affairs committee
They also criticised those contractors for the “low levels of compensation” offered and the fact that compensation was not being offered to any victims taking part in a High Court litigation.
The report recognised that the firms taking part in TCWCS “have acknowledged their responsibility to blacklisted workers in a way which other companies have not”.
But it also raised doubts over the way in which the scheme was set up and is being operated.
Firms in TCWCS are:
- Balfour Beatty
- Laing O’Rourke
- Sir Robert McAlpine
- Skanska UK
In the report, MPs said: “We conclude, with some regret and disappointment, that the unilateral launch of the scheme and the eight companies’ behaviour in the context of the launch letter and press notice demonstrates a lack of good faith and a parsimony of spirit on the part of those companies.
“It raises significant doubts as to the sincerity of their motivations and the real extent to which they may or may not have ‘self-cleansed’.”
In calling for a public inquiry, they added: “We are specifically concerned as to whether the extent and breadth of the practice is fully known, and whether this odious practice is ongoing within the construction industry.”
In response, a TCWCS spokesperson said the group welcomed “the report’s recognition that they are the only companies in the industry that have taken any steps to apologise for their historic involvement with TCA and to establish a route for affected workers to access compensation”.
However, the contractors denied allegations that they tried to mislead victims over the involvement of unions.
The spokesperson continued: “We were disappointed that the launch of TCWCS was not supported by the unions; we note that the final report references our engagement with the unions prior to the launch and recognises key changes were made to the scheme as a result of these conversations.
“We strongly refute any suggestion that we had attempted to mislead any of our audiences or conceal the outcome of our discussions with the unions.
“That said, we wrote to MPs in July 2014 apologising for any ambiguity our original letter may have created.”
According to TCWCS, is has received 480 enquiries, 233 eligible applications and compensated 149 individuals.
“Awards start at £4,000 for those on whom very basic information was held, rising to £100,000 where there is proof of significant loss of earnings,” the spokesperson said.