Union wants to ban bids by ‘blacklisters’

A trade union has demanded that construction companies involved in the blacklisting scandal should not be allowed to bid for public contracts in Scotland.

The call was made by Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, at the STUC Congress in Perth where he said the Scottish government should use the proposed new procurement reform bill to outlaw employers which practised blacklisting.
“We urge the Scottish Government to do the right thing and the Westminster Government should act against the blacklisters too instead of risking embarrassment over its failure to stand up for basic human rights and freedom of association,” said McCluskey.
“Blacklisting is a scandal that has affected workers and families right across Scotland and the UK. It’s a national disgrace that has ruined lives and indelibly stained our construction industry, its biggest employers and successive governments.”
The union’s demand came as the Scottish Affairs Committee started digging deeper on a number of areas raised in its interim report on Blacklisting in Employment.
The committee’s inquiry has raised what it calls “a series of complex questions”, particularly about compensation, which it will consider in the next phase of the inquiry before making final recommendations to Government.
Committee chairman Ian Davidson MP said: “This is an interim report; our inquiry so far has posed a series of key questions rather than answering them, particularly in regard to whether compensation should be offered to the people who suffered invasion of their privacy and loss of earnings as a result of this blacklist.
“We are now inviting further submissions on the four key question areas raised in this report, and we will be taking evidence from more of the firms involved.”
The committee wants to know:
■ Is blacklisting still taking place, within the construction industry and more widely, and especially in Scotland?

■ Should compensation be paid, and to whom? Anyone whose name appeared on a blacklist? Those who can prove they were adversely affected by blacklisting? Who should provide the compensation?

■ What penalties are appropriate for those firms and individuals who engaged in blacklisting and who benefited financially from the process, and is it appropriate to introduce a degree of retrospection? In addition, should firms which have been involved in blacklisting be prevented from tendering for public sector contracts in future? Or should they only be allowed to tender if they pay compensation to those who have been blacklisted?

■ Is the existing legislation against blacklisting sufficient, if properly enforced, or do we need changes to the law to eradicate the practice?