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6 December 2012
Claims that Crossrail contractors have met with an organisation dedicated to compiling blacklists of construction workers needs to be urgently investigated by London's Transport Commissioner, Peter Hendy.
Unite, the largest union in the country, said that it had continuing and serious concerns about how workers are treated by contractors working on the Crossrail scheme – Europe's largest construction project.
In the letter to Peter Hendy, Unite's deputy regional secretary for the London and eastern region, Vince Passfield said that Transport for London (TfL) “must act speedily to ensure the project is free from the illegal practice of blacklisting.”
Vince Passfield said: “We have been assured by Crossrail that the project will provide training and apprentice opportunities, as well as direct employment in line with national agreements, all of which are recognised to contribute to good industrial relations.
“Imagine Unite's horror in hearing that Crossrail contractors met with the Consulting Association, the organisation that compiled a blacklist of mainly construction operatives. The Consulting Association was raided in 2009 by the Information Commissioner's Office.”
Vince Passfield said that the Consulting Association's main employee, Ian Kerr gave evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee Inquiry into blacklisting on 27 November. Mr Kerr's evidence included the information that talks were held between the Consultancy Association and contractors bidding for Crossrail work.
Vince Passfield said he was “shocked” to have read newspaper reports that a former industrial relations manager working on the project, Ron Barron had cross-checked job applicants against a blacklist run by the Consulting Association.
Unite believes it is in the public interest that this matter is properly investigated by TfL and that the Crossrail board is held to account for the implementation of good workplace practices.
Vince Passfield added: “Recently, the safety record of the Crossrail project has been brought into question, following the collapse of a hopper at Westbourne Park, west London. This incident closed two lines from Paddington Station and might easily have become a major disaster.
“Trade unions have a valid role and play a central role in supporting health and safety which is so crucial in the construction industry.”
Unite has campaigned strongly against what it considers to be the anti-union bias that exists across the whole project, which is expected to see the first trains running in 2018.