Union walks out of talks with industry after deadlock over draft clauses to make construction worker blacklisting illegal

Union lawyers are drafting clauses to be inserted into the industry's main pay agreement that would make blacklisting of construction workers illegal.

In a letter seen by Building, Alan Ritchie, general secretary of Ucatt, said the union had abandoned talks as part of the triennial Construction Industry Joint Council (CIJC) because it was “disappointed” by the silence of employers who have “not condemned” the practices.

“As a consequence of these recent revelations and the high level of feeling among our members it has been agreed that the operative side does not believe that the current planned pay negotiations should proceed at the present time,” Ritchie wrote.

He concluded: “The operative side is seeking legal advice on whether clauses which outlaw blacklisting on sites where the CIJC WRA is recognised, could be added the agreement.”

A Ucatt spokesman added: “We take it incredibly seriously that some of our members have been discriminated against for years for simply being trade unionists or having raised health and safety issues on dangerous sites.”

But Construction Confederation executive chairman, Manus Adamson said the issue was not relevant.

“The blacklisting claims are totally outside the pay negotiations,” he said.

The WRA agreement covers a wide array of conditions including the travel expenses, minimum pay levels, travel expenses and holidays of more than 600,000 workers. Over 5,000 employers abide by the agreement.

Earlier this month, union Unite said it intended to sue on behalf of workers who have appeared on the blacklist held by the Consulting Association.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is planning to purse the firm's director, Ian Kerr but has played down the possibility of prosecuting the 40-plus major building firms who subscribed to it.

Last year, union negotiators entered a claim for substantial pay increases and more holidays as part of a new agreement.