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Islington bans blacklisting firms

11 Mar 14 Contractors bidding for work from London’s Islington Council will have to prove that they do not engage in blacklisting.

Under new contract terms, any firms that wants a council contract must demonstrate that it does not practise blacklisting, and those that are known to have who have used blacklisting in the past must prove not only that they have now stopped but also that they have "taken sufficient measures to remedy their past wrongs".

The council's executive committee agreed the measures last week, following a report on blacklisting from the policy and performance scrutiny committee.

According to the GMB union, which has campaigned for councils to adopt this stance, any contractor that used the construction industry blacklist run by the Consulting Association up until 2009, is now barred until they have paid compensation to affected workers.

Cllr Andy Hull, executive member for finance and performance said: "Blacklisting is an immoral practice that has unfairly caused huge suffering for many workers and their families.  We’ve made it clear that we won’t work with firms who blacklist now, nor with any firms who have blacklisted in the past and can’t prove they have stopped and made amends.

"We are making a stand against an unfair employment practice that has ruined too many lives and we are challenging the government to hold a public enquiry into this malpractice, which has been widespread.”

GMB national officer for legal and corporate affairs Maria Ludkin said: "GMB welcome this kind of robust governance from local authorities. It is the only effective guarantee that blacklisting will be stamped out, and workers who were blacklisted compensated, by companies seeking public sector contracts."

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According to GMB, companies now excluded from Islington contracts until they compensate those they blacklisted are: Amec, Amey Construction, Balfour Beatty, Bam Construction, Bam Nuttall, Al Rushaid Investment Co, Costain Group, Laing O'Rourke, Carillion, Diamond Construction & Engineering Recruitment, Emcor Group, Hardwicke Investments, Taylor Wimpey, Kier Group, Renew Holdings, Miller Group, Morgan Sindall Group, Galliford Try, NG Bailey Group, Shepherd Building Group, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska, Financiere Spie, Samsung Construction & Trading, Sunley Holdings and Vinci.

The extend of blacklisting in the construction industry was made public in 2009 when the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) seized a Consulting Association database of 3,213 names – mostly construction workers and environmental activists – deemed to be potentially disruptive to site activities. Some 44 companies used this database to vet new recruits.

So far 467 out of the 3,214 on the list have been made aware that they were on blacklist. Several hundred of these 467 are covered by claims in the High Court. ICO planned to contact direct 1,200 after using their national insurance details to get a current address. That will leave 1,546 still to trace.

Last October eight blacklisting companies (Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci) set up a compensation scheme to pay those that they blacklisted. 

On 27th November particulars of claim were served in the High Court in the GMB legal action against Carillion and other for blacklisting GMB members. A further hearing is due in April.

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