The depth and scale of blacklisting in the construction industry is being revealed in evidence to a parliamentary select committee.
Alan Wainwright worked for subsidiaries of construction companies Carillion and Balfour Beatty. In 2006 Socialist Worker revealed a partial version of the blacklist that Wainwright had made public.
He was gave evidence to the Scottish select committee investigation of blacklisting on Tuesday afternoon. In evidence he said, “I was blacklisted for giving information to an Employment Tribunal.”
Wainwright was involved in organising recruitment for construction companies. At Carrillion was told to send agency workers’ job applications to Ian Kerr from the Consulting Association—the man who was running the blacklist.
Wainwright told the committee, “I met Ian Kerr in Carillion’s Manchester offices.” Kerr told him he had a list of names of people who were holding up projects.
Wainwright said, “Lists of workers were initially faxed to Kerr. That was changed to faxing to Carillion head office. If I didn’t get anything back, they were employed.”
In a new revelation Wainwright added, “In the Carillion recruitment database, markers were added to its database of potential employees.”
That meant a reference code on Carillion’s own internal computer database whenever workers were refused work. Asked if Carillion was producing its own blacklist, Wainwright replied, “Yes.”
Making repeated requests for the same workers’ names cost money. Wainwright recalled, “It was 50p a name at the time.” He suggested this is what lay behind Carillion’s decision to keep its own blacklist. He agreed it was reasonable to assume other companies did the same too.
In his written evidence Wainwright said, “Senior management within Tarmac/Carillion were involved with the Consulting Association.
“I have previously mentioned that the instruction for my central labour department in Manchester to use the Consulting Association came from the Tarmac/Carillion personnel director in head office via Kevin Gorman [human resources manager for Carillion’s Crown House division].
“I recently called electrician Dave Smith, who has already given evidence to your committee, to discuss Carillion and he informed me that the initials JB, KG and LK were on the Carillion blacklist files he’d recovered from the ICO for his case against them.
“KG would be Kevin Gorman, JB would be John Ball who was the senior human resources manager for Tarmac/Carillion during my employment with them (1993-2000), and LK would be Liz Keates, who joined around 1999.
“I can also confirm that Kevin Gorman had confirmed to me on at least one occasion that he had placed two operatives on the Consulting Association blacklist following a dispute at a project in Hull.”
He added in his written evidence, “I believe Kevin Gorman now works for Bristow Helicopters in Aberdeen who provide crew transport services to offshore rigs.”
In his evidence Wainwright named the following people as involved in the operation of the blacklist:
Frank Duggan: group personnel director for Carillion plc
Kevin Gorman: former human resources manager for Carillion’s Crown House division, now human resources director for Bristow offshore helicopters
Liz Keates: head of human resouces at Carillion
Sandy Palmer: NCS (Carillion’s in-house employment agency)
Dave Aspinall: NCS (Carillion’s in-house employment agency)
John Ball: head of human resources at Carillion
Roger Robinson and Brian Tock: two managing directors of Crown House, both of whom discussed the Consulting Association blacklist with Alan Wainwright
Sheila Knight: Emcor Drake & Scull, who circulated lists of workers on Pfizers, Royal Opera House and Jubilee Line among senior managers with other firms
Michael Aird: Balfour Kilpatrick
Prue Jackson: personnel director of Hayden Young
David Brinckley: Hayden Young
Construction union Ucatt has accused the firm Sir Robert McAlpine of using blacklisting checks to vet workers building the 2012 Olympic stadium.
Ucatt leaders gave evidence last week to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the industry’s blacklist run by the now defunct Consulting Association (CA).
General secretary Steve Murphy told the committee, “Robert McAlpine was a big blacklister.” He revealed how during the CA’s final year of operation Sir Robert McAlpine paid £26,842.20 for background checks on workers.
Murphy drew the committee’s attention to the spike in Sir Robert McAlpine’s blacklisting activity in the third quarter of 2008. This corresponded with McAlpine’s building of the Olympic Stadium from late May.
From July–September 2008 McAlpine spent £12,839.20 making 5,836 checks—63 per day. “This figure was a lot higher than other quarters for any blacklisting firm,” Murphy said. McAlpine is currently subject to a legal claim by blacklisted workers.
In the week in which the Health and Safety Executive released its annual death at work figures, three fatal incidents took place.
Philip Dodd suffered a fatal electric shock at the Marks and Spencer store in Tunbridge Wells, Kent last weekend. The 62 year old was working as a contractor.
On Monday 29 October, carpenter Justinas Kopickas died at property developer St James’ Langham Square site in Upper Richmond Road, Putney.
On the same day a 25 year old man was apparently crushed at a demolition site on Tottenham High Road. He died in hospital two days later.
Construction had the highest level of workplace deaths of any industrial sector in the year to March 2012—some 49 people, compared with 33 in agriculture.