Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Building Blacklists 'Destroying Lives' MPs Condemn 'Scandal' in Construction

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Building Blacklists 'Destroying Lives' MPs Condemn 'Scandal' in Construction

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Warburton Chief Reporter ? 0191 201 6276 ? dan.warburton@ncjmedia.co.uk

THE blacklisting of North East construction workers was today branded a scandal as MPs called for an independent investigation.

A string of workers have launched legal action over allegations that firms involved in major construction projects, including the Olympics and Crossrail, blacklisted workers.

Secret files discovered during a raid in 2009 revealed 69 workers in the Tyne and Wear area were among hundreds denied employment after they raised legitimate health and safety concerns or exercised their right to belong to a trade union.

Many workers have no idea they were included on the blacklist, which was uncovered by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and showed more than 40 of the UK's largest construction firms used the practice.

A raid on an organisation called the Consulting Association discovered a database of 3,000 names used to vet workers in the construction sector for more than 15 years.

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery, inset, yesterday compared blacklisting to phone hacking because it "destroyed the lives of many innocent people". He said: "It ruined and continues to ruin the lives of many hardworking men, women and their families."

Prime Minister David Cameron said the issues occurred during Labour's time in office ahead of the party's debate. Speaking in the Commons at Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Cameron said: "The blacklisting that occurred was a completely unacceptable practice. I think the previous government was right to bring in legislation to make it unlawful. "We've seen no evidence the blacklisting regulations introduced are not doing their job and the company responsible was shut down in 2009.

"But let me say this: I do welcome the openness and frankness that Labour are using an Opposition Day debate to look at something that went wrong while they were in office."

An analysis of the blacklist showed that most workers on the list were from London where 454 workers were blacklisted, followed by Greater Manchester who had 183, and Merseyside where there were 173. …

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