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Sat June 19 2021

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MPs call for government inquiry on Crossrail blacklisting

23 Jul 13 A committee of MPs has written to business secretary Vince Cable asking for an official government inquiry into the construction industry’s widespread use of an employment reference service.

The House of Commons Scottish Affairs committee has been investigating the use of the Consulting Association by major contractors to prevent suspected “troublemakers” from getting jobs in the industry. More than 3,000 workers were effectively blacklisted without their knowledge.

The committee has described it as “an organised conspiracy by big construction firms, to discriminate against workers who raised legitimate grievances over health and safety and other industrial issues. This was an exercise run for the financial gain of the companies involved and those who benefited must be held accountable.”

Committee chairman Ian Davidson has told Mr Cable of his specific concerns about the Crossrail project, brought to his attention by the Unite union. "The committee has now received written evidence and held a formal committee hearing on the 3 July with Gail Cartmaill of Unite the Union, who has given us what we believe to be clear proof that blacklisting for trade union and health and safety activities has been going on within the contract for the Crossrail project run by BFK (BAM, Ferrovial and Kier)," Mr Davidson wrote.

Crossrail has repeatedly said that it has no evidence of malpractice among its principal contractors and has been assured that they did not use the blacklist in recruiting for this project.The Consulting Association was shutdown by the Information Commissioner in 2009.

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Responding the the comittee's call, Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The Scottish Affairs committee is doing fantastic work to uncover injustices being perpetrated against workers who only wanted to support their fellow colleagues at work or who raised health and safety concerns in one of Britain’s most dangerous industries.

“We believe that there is compelling evidence that blacklisting is taking place here and now in UK plc.

“We urge the business secretary to agree to the committee’s request to undertake a thorough investigation. It is unacceptable that contractors working on high profile projects should be allowed to get away with these activities without intervention from the government.

“An investigation by the government would be a significant milestone for the victims’ campaign for justice – we urge Vince Cable to act without delay and respond with a Leveson style inquiry.”

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