Business

Call for probe into Crossrail 'blacklisting' allegation

Crossrail
Image caption The Crossrail project is building a 73 mile railway across London

The Scottish Affairs Committee says London's Crossrail project should be investigated after it heard "compelling evidence" of blacklisting of construction workers.

The committee has been taking evidence from the building industry and unions.

Its chairman, Ian Davidson, has written to Business Secretary Vince Cable to express his concerns.

Crossrail is a £14.5bn project in London and is run by a consortium including BAM, Ferrovial and Kier.

Writing to Vince Cable MP, Ian Davidson MP, Chair of the Committee, said: "The Committee has now received written evidence and held a formal Committee hearing on the 3 July with Gail Cartmail of Unite, the union who has given us what we believe to be clear proof that blacklisting for trade union and health and safety activities has been going on within the contract for the Crossrail project run by BFK (BAM, Ferrovial and Kier)."

Unite says that in September 2012 a subcontractor was removed from the Crossrail project for raising concerns about safety.

It also says that one of its union representatives was banned from the site.

A spokesman for Crossrail said: "Since September 2012, the Unite union has made a series of unsubstantiated allegations against Crossrail Limited.

"Crossrail has made repeated requests to be provided with any evidence of the claims made against it by Unite but nothing has been forthcoming.

"Crossrail has asked for and received assurances from all its principal contractors providing confirmation that none have engaged in any blacklisting activity on the Crossrail project. Crossrail will co-operate fully with any investigation undertaken by the Information Commissioner."

'Derisory'

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has referred the matter to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

In a statement it said: "Blacklisting is illegal and if such evidence were to surface, perpetrators would feel the full force of the law.

"We are grateful to the SAC for contacting us and urge anyone else who has any evidence of blacklisting taking place to get in touch with the relevant authorities, who will treat this matter very seriously.

"It would not be appropriate for us to comment on this further until the Information Commissioner's Office has considered the detail."

Construction union UCATT described the referral to the ICO as "derisory".

"The Information Commissioner's Office does not have the resources, the ability or the powers to properly investigate blacklisting on Crossrail," said Steve Murphy, general secretary of UCATT.

The ICO investigated a previous case of blacklisting that emerged in 2009.

That resulted in the shutdown of an organisation called the Consulting Association for breaking data protection laws.

It held details of construction workers and sold access to that information.

Ian Murray, shadow minister for employment relations, said: "It is greatly concerning that new evidence on blacklisting has been brought to light in relation to the publicly-funded Crossrail project, suggesting that blacklisting has continued after the raid on the Consulting Association in 2009."

More on this story