4 Conclusion |
53. The odious practice of blacklisting has blighted
the working lives of many people in Scotland and elsewhere in
the UK. The extent of this practice, the measures required to
stop it, and to make amends for the consequences of its use in
the past, have already been the subject of three interim reports
by this Committee during this Parliament. We stand by and reiterate
the conclusions and recommendations of those reports.
54. In our second report on this matter, Blacklisting
in Employment: addressing the crimes of the past; moving towards
best practice, we welcomed the Welsh Government's pioneering
approach to tackling blacklisting through public procurement.
One of the key elements of that approach was that companies who
have participated in blacklisting should undertake self-cleaning
before being allowed to bid for future public contracts.
We concluded that self-cleaning was an important step as it places
responsibility on contractors to demonstrate how they have changed,
and to make amends for their past blacklisting activity. We not
only recommended that firms that have been involved in blacklisting
should be required to demonstrate how they have self-cleaned before
being allowed to tender for future public contracts, we were also
of the view that firms which do not participate fully in an agreed
compensation scheme after having been caught using the blacklisting
service of the TCA or any similar conspiracy, should be deemed
not to have 'self-cleaned'.
We welcome the Welsh Government's recent announcement (11 March
2015) which bans the use of false self-employment umbrella payroll
contracts on public works contracts.
55. In our previous reports we also concluded that
the UK and devolved Governments should recognise the absolutely
crucial role that they play as client or funders of the vast majority
of construction work in the UK; and that the role of the client,
properly exercised, allows enormous control, not only over the
construction companies but also their subcontractors and suppliers.
As noted above, we recommended that firms that have been involved
in blacklisting should be required to demonstrate how they have
self-cleaned before being allowed to tender for future public
contracts, and those who have not self-cleaned should not be allowed
to tender for public contracts.
56. A central theme of our inquiry throughout has
been to seek adequate redress for the victims of blacklisting
and for their families. We have not made comment on the Group
Litigation which is currently proceeding through the High Court,
as this would not be appropriate. However, we have made regular
comment on the Construction Workers Compensation Scheme, initially
in an attempt to facilitate agreement between the scheme and the
trade union workers in order to guarantee the most robust scheme
and best possible outcome for the victims of blacklisting and
57. This report focuses on that scheme. We are disappointed
that agreement was not reached between the scheme and the trade
unions and that the scheme was subsequently launched unilaterally.
Despite lack of agreement, the material produced to launch the
scheme- including a letter to all Members of Parliament- implied
that agreement had been reached. This misleading wording has cast
doubt on the sincerity and motives of the companies behind the
scheme. Our disappointment was further compounded by some of the
details 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.
58. Despite the flaws in the scheme, our main concern
is that the victims of blacklisting receive at least some measure
of compensation. We therefore call on the ICO to redouble its
efforts to find and contact as many of those names who were on
the original TCA list as possible. 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. Our key concern is that whether through
litigation or through participation in the compensation, workers,
the victims of blacklisting and their families are compensated.
This is why we recommend that the deadline to the scheme be extended
to allow those participating in the litigation to also access
59. While we have been critical of the scheme, the
amounts of compensation offered and the motivations of the companies
behind the scheme-we acknowledge they have at least taken a small
step to acknowledge their past behaviour and make amends. Other
companies have not stepped up to the mark-and have neither acknowledged
their complicity in blacklisting not taken any steps to eradicate
this practice in the future. This attitude, combined with inadequate
voluntary codes of best practice in terms of recruitment in the
sector does not provide us with a sufficient guarantee that the
practice of blacklisting is an exclusively historic one.
60. Our concerns in this area have been exacerbated
both by recent allegations in relation to the employment practices
of Atlanco Rimec, and the dubious practices of bogus self-employment/umbrella
companies as highlighted in our Zero hours contracts in Scotland
report. We stand
by our previous recommendations that direct and transparent recruitment
practices are by far the best way of eradicating blacklisting
in the construction industry,
and that such practices should be standard for all public
sector contracts in the construction industry.
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.
63 HC 543 para 30 Back
HC 543, paras 28-32 Back
Para 31 Back
HC 543, Para 54 and HC 1291, para 7 Back
10th Report of Session 2013-14, Zero hours contracts in Scotland: Interim Report,
HC 654, 14 April 2014, paras 111-113 Back
HC 543, para 42-48 and HC 1291, para 11 Back
HC 543 para 45 and HC 1291, para 11 Back