Shadow business secretary tables a motion to be debated in parliament on Wednesday calling for a full investigation into blacklisting

Shadow business secretary

Blacklisting in the construction industry will be debated in parliament this week, after the Labour opposition tabled a motion calling for a full investigation into the practice.

The move comes after Building exclusively revealed on Friday that Balfour Beatty had carried out blacklist checks on employees on the Olympic Park.

The Labour motion calls for the Government to “immediately begin an investigation into the extent blacklisting took place and may be taking place, including on public sector projects, and to ensure that appropriate and effective sanctions are in place to tackle and prevent blacklisting”.

Building revealed last November that Crossrail’s former industrial relations manager Ron Barron – who worked on the project at project delivery partner Bechtel – was an established blacklister in a former role. Subsequently, the union Unite wrote to London’s transport commissioner Peter Hendy urging him to investigate claims the £15bn Crossrail project has links to the blacklisting of workers.

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, who has tabled the motion, will also call for the Information Commissioner to “adopt a proactive process for informing individual victims of blacklisting” so that they can seek compensation.

Umunna said: “Blacklisting is a national scandal. Workers have had their livelihoods destroyed, theirreputations tarnished and in some cases their families torn apart just because they raised health and safety concerns or were a member of a trade union. And the further tragedy is that many of those affected have no idea that they have been blacklisted.

“As well as investigating blacklisting allegations in full, including those relating to public construction projects, Ministers need to look again at what changes need to be made to ensure blacklisting is prevented and that this scandal is never repeated again.”

The motion comes as a group of alleged victims of construction industry blacklisting have lodged a multi-million pound claim against Sir Robert McAlpine in the High Court.

The claim - which is being disputed by Sir Robert McAlpine - alleges that the contractor “took a central role” in the establishment and operation of blacklisting organisation the Consulting Association (TCA), which worked on behalf of more than 40 construction firms and was closed down by data protection watchdog the Information Commissioner’s Office in 2009.

Sir Robert McAlpine director Cullum McAlpine will appear before the Scottish Affairs Committee on Tuesday as it continues its investigation into blacklisting.

Mr McAlpine was identified as a key member of The Consulting Association by former blacklist boss Ian Kerr in evidence to the committee in November.

Labour Party motion:

  • That this House notes that in 2009 the Information Commissioner’s Office raided the Consultation Association which revealed a ‘blacklist’ and files on more than 3,000 individuals they have compiled which had been used by more than 40 construction companies to vet individuals and deny people employment for reasons including being a member of a trade union or having raised health and safety concerns and that extensive personal information on individuals and their families was held;
  • recognises that the majority of individuals have still not been informed that they were on the blacklist nor given the opportunity to seek redress, despite recent confirmation that blacklisting checks took place on Olympic construction sites and allegations that the practice took place on public projects including Ministry of Defence sites, Portcullis House and Crossrail;
  • further notes that at recent Scottish Affairs Select Committee hearings into blacklisting the Information Commissioner Investigations Manager raised concerns that there may have been collusion by police officers and security services in the compilation of blacklists, and in addition it was also alleged at the hearings that a blacklist of environmental activists was compiled;
  • and calls on the Government to immediately begin an investigation into the extent blacklisting took place and may be taking place, including on public sector projects, and to ensure that appropriate and effective sanctions are in place to tackle and prevent blacklisting.