COMPANIES caught up in blacklisting will be forced to declare their involvement if they want to win public sector work with bodies like councils and the NHS in Scotland, Alex Salmond today revealed.
Apologies to workers from companies and pledges on “future conduct” will be at the heart of new legislation going through Parliament - and firms who break the new rules could see contracts cancelled.
The measures were unveiled by the First Minister as he met STUC chiefs today.
It came as protests were held outside the offices of major UK construction firms and the Scottish Parliament over blacklisting of workers by unions.
Blacklisting came to light three years ago when it emerged that thousands of workers involved with unions or who raised safety concerns in the workplace were put on a blacklisting by the now defunct Consultancy Association.
Suitability to be assessed
The Procurement Reform Bill, currently before Holyrood will enable the Scottish Government to make regulations on how a firm’s suitability to bid for contracts is assessed – providing an opportunity to place the new policy guidelines on a statutory basis.
The First Minister said: “We are making it absolutely clear to any company wishing to tender to supply, build or service parts of our national infrastructure, or to deliver our public goods and services, that blacklisting will not be tolerated and that they face being excluded from bidding for public contracts if found to be taking part in this unacceptable practice.”
“The Scottish Government is opposed to blacklisting in any form, given the serious impact it can have on the career, livelihoods and lives of those affected. Companies awarded public contracts must maintain high standards of business and professional conduct.”
“Everyone has a right to work and to raise concerns, including through a union.”
Eight of the biggest construction companies - with Balfour Beatty, Carillion and Sir Robert McAlpine among them - have recently unveiled plans for an industry-wide compensation scheme for workers who suffered because their name was on the blacklist.
Construction companies have denied legal liability, but say they would offer to pay up to £100,000 to victims.
The Bill includes new standard Pre-Qualification Questionnaire questions requiring suppliers to disclose if they have breached laws against blacklisting. If found to have used a blacklist, a bidder will have to show it has taken appropriate remedial action.
The Scottish Government has also included a new contract clause in its standard terms and conditions, allowing contracts to be terminated if a supplier is found to have breached the relevant legislation.
STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith welcomed the new guidelines. “They make it clear that public bodies should only give new public contracts where blacklisting employers have taken appropriate remedial action in a number of key areas,” he said.
This includes making an apology to the affected workers, issuing a statement on future conduct and proving compliance with any tribunal ruling made against them in relation to blacklisting.
He added: “The STUC also welcomes the provision for the potential removal of an existing contract from any firm which is proven to have lied in its tender submission. The STUC is committed to working with the Scottish Government to monitor the use of this guidance and
provide further evidence where we believe the practice of blacklisting continues.”