One of the UK’s leading construction firms is facing legal action from “blacklisted” workers after its boss apologised over use of the practice by a former subsidiary.
However, Carillion chief executive Richard Howson insisted that the firm itself does not “condone or engage” in blacklisting.
It has emerged that the practice was prevalent in the UK construction industry after the seizure of a database of 3,213 workers by the Information Commissioner’s Office. It was used by 44 companies to vet recruits.
It was largely used to blacklist trades union activists and health and safety activists. The industry could now be facing compensation claims running into millions of pounds, with another construction giant, Sir Robert McAlpine also facing action, it was reported yesterday.
A former subsidiary of Carillion, Crown House Engineering, used the database to blacklist 224 UK workers, it emerged at a tribunal this year.
However, Mr Howson said: “Carillion is led by strong values and we take our commitment to transparency and openness extremely seriously, which is why we are sorry that one of our former subsidiary businesses, Crown House Engineering, used the Consulting Association’s database to reference individuals. This was not consistent with the high standards of behaviour that we set for ourselves, based on our core values.”
He added: “We want to make it absolutely clear that Carillion does not condone or engage in blacklisting.”
Union chiefs welcomed the apology, but say they plan to take court action against Carillion on behalf of workers affected to secure compensation.
“This is an important first step in recognition of the disgraceful and immoral behaviour of Carillion and many other construction companies,” GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said.