Workers gather outside Scottish parliament to demand action from government on blacklisting in the construction industry

Electricians protest at Blackfriars Station

Construction workers have gathered outside the Scottish parliament to demand a ban on contractors involved in blacklisting from bidding for public sector contracts.

Dozens of workers turned out for a rally organised by the Unite union chanting “no public contracts for blacklisting companies” and “blacklisting is crime - blacklisting bosses should do time”.

The rally coincided with a members’ debate in the Scottish parliament today led by Labour MSP Neil Findlay to demand a new inquiry by the Scottish government and to call on the firms to compensate blacklisting victims.

The allegations stem from the database held by the Consulting Association (TCA), the blacklisting firm exposed and shut down in 2009 which was paid by more than 40 major contractors.

Jim Currie, 61, an electrician from Glasgow, said his details were among the 3,213 names in TCA’s files.

Speaking at the protest today, he said: “I’ve always been a trade union official of some sort, either a shop steward or a safety rep.

“I tried to make the building sites safe and comfortable, asking for more toilets and washing facilities and things like that.

“It would cost the companies more money to install these things, so their answer was to get rid of the activists and frighten the rest of the workforce.

“Over the years I have found it very hard to continue working while my non-unionised friends were getting jobs, so we have always known there was a blacklist but we couldn’t prove it until the ICO raid.

“I have had to pursue my career throughout Great Britain, working in London and spending a lot of time away from my family and two sons.

“I’ve also had to endure long spells of unemployment which obviously affects family life. I’ve spent many a Christmas with no job and no prospects.”

Findlay said: “It’s a human-rights abuse that has been going on for decades and now that the Commons Scottish Affairs Committee has managed to expose the activities of TCA and all of the major construction companies we are hopefully going to get justice.

“I would like the Scottish government to engage with the trade unions and others who have got an interest in this issue, and I would personally like the Scottish Parliament to have an inquiry into this to find out the extent in Scotland.

“I would also like to see new guidance when the new Procurement Reform Bill comes forward so that we can ensure that this never happens again.

“We won’t know how prevalent this is in Scotland until we have an inquiry.”