In September 2012, electrical specialist EIS was removed from the Crossrail project as a BFK subcontractor and 28 workers made redundant.
The Unite union claimed that EIS and its workforce were dismissed as a result of trade union activists raising health and safety concerns. Shop steward Frank Morris was banned from the site after raising concerns over dangerous cabling in tunnels, Unite said at the time. This claim was denied by Crossrail, which said that EIS’s contract had run its course. However, the issue generated reports that illegal blacklisting of construction workers was taking place on the Crossrail project.
Unite told the parliamentary Scottish Affairs Committee, which is investigating allegations of blacklisting in the construction industry, that Crossrail had a policy “to keep trade unions off the site” even though a Unite shop steward and a Unite safety representative continue to play an active role at BFK’s Westbourne Park site to this day.
Moreover, construction workers on the Crossrail project are employed by the principal contractors and their supply chains, not by Crossrail Limited itself. Crossrail says that the conditions of its construction contracts oblige all contractors to implement policies that allow employees to join trades unions.
Unite says that it now accepts that its allegations were not true and there has been no blacklisting by BFK.
Unite and BFK have today issued a joint statement saying that they have together “successfully concluded matters between them in relation to BFK’s joint venture on the Crossrail projects”.
They say: “BFK acknowledge that the conclusion of the EIS contract could have been handled better and BFK and Unite have agreed to work together to continue the provision of transparent working practices including safeguarding the right of workers to choose whether or not to join a trade union.
“BFK and Unite agree that there has been no contravention of the blacklisting regulations on the BFK Crossrail projects.
“BFK and Unite are committed to improving ways of working together.”
Their statement concludes: “The above allows BFK and Unite to further build upon their working relationship for the good of all involved and both parties look forward to working with each other in the future.”
Crossrail chief executive Andrew Wolstenholme added: “Blacklisting is indefensible, unacceptable and unlawful. Over the last year, the Unite union has made a series of misleading and unsubstantiated allegations concerning blacklisting on the Crossrail project. By their own admission, Unite advised the Scottish Affairs Committee that their evidence was circumstantial and was not sufficient to prove blacklisting. Unite has now issued a joint statement with our western tunnels contractor BFK stating that no blacklisting has taken place.”