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Unilateral blacklisting compensation scheme an "act of bad faith"

27 March 2015

In its final blacklisting report the Scottish Affairs Committee says The Construction Workers Compensation Scheme (TCWCS) launched by eight of the 30 companies involved in blacklisting was introduced in an "act of bad faith".

It says it is difficult to conclude other than that the publicity around the launch was a deliberate attempt to mislead, and that the implication that the trade unions were in agreement with the scheme is both "callous and manipulative".

The Committee says a voluntary code of conduct to eradicate the practice of blacklisting in the future is insufficient, and a statutory code of practice is required.

Although the Committee is highly critical of the scheme and casts doubt over the motivations behind it, it does acknowledge that it is only those eight companies who set up the scheme - out of the 30 known to have used the services of The Consulting Agency (TCA) that ran the blacklisting service - who have taken any steps at all to remedy the sins of the past.

Flaws in the scheme

The Committee identifies a series of flaws in the scheme, including: 

  • It was launched without the agreement of the trade unions (and its launch attempted to mask that fact)
  • The low levels of compensation being offered
  • The fact that those participating in the High Court litigation are not eligible to access the scheme
  • The scheme’s failure to incorporate any type of positive action measures to upskill and re-employ the victims of blacklisting

Chair's comments

Ian Davidson MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

"The unilateral introduction of a compensation scheme was an act of bad faith by those involved, likely to be motivated by a desire to minimise financial and reputational damage rather than being a genuine attempt to address the crimes of the past.

To mislead MPs is a serious issue but to mislead blacklisted workers and their families by implying that the trade unions were in agreement with the scheme is both callous and manipulative.

While we are highly critical of the scheme and the way it was introduced, at least those eight companies have made even this effort. We do not accept the excuses made from the other companies for their non-participation and interpret this as evidence of their unwillingness to self-cleanse.

Despite the grave flaws in the scheme, our main concern is that the victims of blacklisting receive at least some measure of compensation. The ICO should redouble its efforts to find and contact as many of the individuals whose names who were on the original TCA list as possible–including the families of those blacklisted workers who may have passed away.

Given the denial and duplicitous practices we have encountered on the part of many of the companies who were complicit in blacklisting, we have no confidence in the sector to either self-cleanse on a voluntary basis nor to take sufficiently robust steps to eradicate the practice of blacklisting in the future. A voluntary code of conduct for pre-employment vetting in the construction company will not be sufficient. We must have a statutory with those firms who have refused to self-cleanse being banned from all contracts funded, in whole or in part, by public money code of practice.

Despite 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, including the recent allegations in relation to police and security service involvement in blacklisting in the construction and other sectors.

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 and we recommend that the Government take immediate steps to launch one."

Further information

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