Blacklisting in Employment: Final Report - Scottish Affairs Contents


Conclusions and recommendations



The Construction Workers Compensation Scheme

1.  While we are critical of the scheme and cast doubt over the motivations behind it, we acknowledge that only the eight companies who set up the scheme (out of the 30 who used the services of TCA) appear to have taken any steps at all to remedy the sins of the past. We do not accept the excuses made from the other companies for their non-participation and interpret this as evidence of their unwillingness to self-cleanse. (Paragraph 9)

2.  It is difficult to conclude that the letter and press notice which announced the launch of TCWCS was anything other than a deliberate attempt to mislead. It is almost inconceivable that the legal teams of the eight companies would not have improved such ambiguous drafting unless it was intended to be ambiguous in order to misrepresent the situation. To mislead MPs is a serious issue but to attempt to mislead blacklisted workers and their families, by, at the very least, implying that the trade unions were in agreement with the scheme, is both callous and manipulative. (Paragraph 24)

3.  We recognise that only eight of the companies implicated by the ICO's investigation have stepped up to provide this compensation, and have acknowledged their responsibility to blacklisted workers in a way which other companies have not. However, we conclude, with some regret and disappointment, that the unilateral launch of the scheme and the eight companies' behaviour in the context of the launch letter and press notice demonstrates a lack of good faith and a parsimony of spirit on the part of those companies-and raises significant doubts as to the sincerity of their motivations and the real extent to which they may or may not have 'self-cleansed'. (Paragraph 25)

4.  Our disappointment with the fact that the scheme was launched without the agreement of the trade unions, and the scheme's attempt to mask that fact, is compounded by some of the features of the scheme: the low levels of compensation being offered; the fact that those participating in the High Court litigation are not eligible to access the scheme; and the scheme's failure to incorporate any type of positive action measures to upskill and re-employ the victims of blacklisting. This directly contravenes our previous recommendations that the key principles of apology, adequate compensation and employee assistance for those still of working age should form key parts of any agreed scheme. (Paragraph 35)

5.  In line with the recommendations of our previous reports, and as noted in paragraph 22 of this report, we conclude that the unilateral introduction of a compensation scheme was an act of bad faith by those involved, likely to be motivated by a desire to minimise financial and reputational damage rather than being a genuine attempt to address the crimes of the past. (Paragraph 36)

6.  Despite the grave flaws in the scheme, our main concern is that the victims of blacklisting receive at least some measure of compensation. We therefore recommend that the ICO redouble its efforts to find and contact as many of the individuals whose names who were on the original TCA list as possible-including the families of those blacklisted workers who may have passed away. While we acknowledge the concerns the trade unions have in sharing data with the blacklisters, they should work with the ICO and the scheme to facilitate rather than obstruct this process. (Paragraph 43)

7.  In order to maximise the number of victims who are compensated, we also recommend that the deadline for applications to the scheme be extended to allow more victims of blacklisting to access the scheme. (Paragraph 44)

An historic practice?

8.  Given the denial and duplicitous practices we have encountered on the part of many of the companies who were complicit in blacklisting, we have no confidence in the sector to neither self-cleanse on a voluntary basis nor to take sufficiently robust steps to eradicate the practice of blacklisting in the future. A voluntary code of conduct for pre-employment vetting in the construction company is insufficient. A statutory code of practice is required. (Paragraph 50)

9.  We are not in a position to comment on recent allegations in relation to police and security service involvement in blacklisting in the construction and other sectors. However, the allegations raise doubt as to whether all the information in relation to the full extent of the practice is the numbers of those affected is known, and is in the public domain. We recommend that our successor Committee should pursue this issue. (Paragraph 52)

Conclusion

10.  Despite the progress and positive steps which have been taken during the course of our inquiry, in this final report we have identified that many questions in relation to the practice of blacklisting remain unanswered. We are specifically concerned as to whether the extent and breadth of the practice is fully known, and whether this odious practice is ongoing within the construction industry. We are convinced that the only way to fully answer these questions is through a full Public Inquiry. We recommend that the Government take immediate steps to launch such an inquiry as a matter of priority in the new Parliament. (Paragraph 61)


 
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Prepared 27 March 2015