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Sun March 07 2021

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Union fears ratings app abuse

3 Sep 20 An app for rating the performance of asbestos workers could potentially be used to blacklist and discriminate workers – that is the fear of Unite, the UK’s construction union.

The app, launched this week by the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA), is designed to give contractors advance knowledge of the skills and competencies of short-term agency operatives they may be considering taking on.

The Asbestos Labour Feedback App, ALFA, enables ARCA member licensed asbestos removal contractors to rate the performance and behaviour of operatives supplied by ARCA labour supply members.

Operatives are rated by contractors across nine categories, with ratings used to calculate an overall performance rating. ARCA says the aim is to “support better performing labour”. [See our previous report here.]

But Unite is concerned what happens to those with low ratings. Will they be victimised?

Unite national officer for construction Ian Woodland has written to ARCA chairman Jason Day, expressing his concerns and seeking a meeting.

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Ian Woodland said: “Unite is fully committed to the underlying principle that asbestos removal work must be undertaken by trained workers who undertake the work safely.

“However, Unite fears that in an attempt to ensure competency levels, ARCA has created a system which allows unscrupulous contractors to victimise and blacklist workers who, for example, may have challenged dangerous working practices, giving them a low score when rating their ability. A low mark would then result in the affected worker struggling to be hired for future asbestos removal work.

“Unite is concerned that there is no evidence that the app includes sufficient safeguards to prevent blacklisting and discrimination to occur.

“Unite has written to Mr Day to raise our concerns and is seeking a meeting in order to ensure that these concerns are resolved. In the meantime Unite would urge that the roll out of the app is suspended in order to ensure that workers cannot be blacklisted, discriminated or victimised by this technology.”

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