Forth bridge companies in blacklisted workers scandal

FIRMS involved in Scotland’s biggest taxpayer-funded building project paid subscriptions to a controversial organisation that kept blacklists of workers, it has emerged.

Labour have said secret files on thousands of workers in the construction sector resulted in them being denied employment after raising legitimate health and safety concerns or exercising their human right to belong to a trade union.

Unions have said that more than 40 of the UK’s largest construction firms used a blacklist.

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Many workers have no idea they were included on the blacklist, which was uncovered by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in a raid in 2009. Now it has emerged that businesses that were part of the consortium handed a contract worth almost £800 million for the Forth Replacement Crossing paid the Consulting Association for access to blacklists.

The offices of the Consulting Association were raided after it emerged it was selling secret personal data to firms that wanted to vet individuals before employing them.

Scottish Government ministers admitted firms involved in the consortium were identified by the Information Commissioner as subscribing to the Association, which charged its clients £3,000 a year and £2.20 for each blacklisting inquiry.

Prime Minister David Cameron has described the blacklisting of workers as a “completely unacceptable practice”.

Labour MSP Neil Findlay called for a Holyrood inquiry into the practice and building projects such as the Forth Replacement Crossing.

Mr Findlay has previously called for firms involved in blacklisting to be banned from receiving contracts involving taxpayers’ cash after it was reported that 5,000 construction workers in Scotland are on employers’ blacklists. Mr Findlay said: “There are shocking revelations in this parliamentary answer. It now appears that not only have the Scottish Government allowed the contract for the Forth crossing steel to go to China, but the contractors who are building the bridge appear to have been operating a blacklist preventing Scottish workers from getting jobs.

“Given that there appears to be have been a blacklist operating on the biggest construction project in Scotland, the Parliament must investigate and the Scottish Government must also intervene.”

Mr Findlay’s call came after Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon admitted that the SNP government had “awarded contracts” to companies that paid the Consulting Association for its services.

A Scottish government spokesman said: “We are not aware of any evidence to suggest that blacklisting has been used in connection with any contracts awarded by the Scottish Government or its agencies – including those related to the FRC.”

A spokesman for the Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors declined to comment .