EIGHT leading construction companies are to compensate workers whose names were on a secret industry blacklist.
The development follows years of campaigning by unions after it was discovered that more than 3,200 names, mainly of building workers, were kept on the list, drawn up by a shadowy organisation called The Consulting Association (TCA).
Workers involved claimed they were denied work, often for merely raising legitimate concerns about health and safety on building sites.
Legal action is being taken on behalf of some of those on the list. The eight firms announced that they are working on a scheme to compensate construction workers whose names were on the TCA’s database.
A statement said: “The companies – Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci Plc – all apologise for their involvement with TCA and the impact that its database may have had on any individual construction worker.
“The companies have invited workers’ representatives to ensure that the proposed terms of the scheme are fair and effective. The group is also engaging with other interested parties.”
Yesterday unions welcomed the news, although some campaigners said more should be done.
Justin Bowden, of the GMB, said: “Firms admitting they engaged in a terrible abuse of the civil rights of thousands of UK workers is an important step.The next step is clean up and pay up. ”
Unite assistant general-secretary Gail Cartmail said: “It must be a priority to get blacklisted workers back into work. Unite is calling on contractors to employ and, where relevant, support the upskilling of blacklisted workers.
“Many of these workers have spent years out of work as a result of being blacklisted. Employers have a moral duty to give them back the jobs that were wrongly taken away from them.”
The Blacklist Support Group said it was not celebrating just yet, adding: “So far there are no firm proposals, only a vague promise of compensation for any workers with a ‘legitimate claim’.
“We want every single person who is on The Consulting Association blacklist to be compensated and jobs guaranteed for blacklisted workers on major construction projects.”
The Consulting Association was closed down following a raid on its West Midlands offices by the Information Commissioner’s Office. A total of 44 firms were found to be using the blacklist, which included names of a number of environmental activists.
The TUC is organising a national day of action on 20 November over the blacklisting. Unions have called for a Leveson-style inquiry.
Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said: “This announcement is a welcome step, though it should have been made a long time ago.
“Given that 44 companies have been named as having used the construction industry blacklist, it is regrettable this announcement only covers eight firms.”