Eight contractors have issued a “full and unreserved apology” for their work with the notorious Consulting Association.
Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci issued a joint statement this week.
It comes ahead of a High Court case brought by a range of trades union against 40 firms over the issue of so-called ‘blacklisting’.
The Consulting Association was shut down after an Information Commissioners Office raid in 2009. The eight firms above have since formed the Construction Worker Compensation Scheme.
In a joint statement this week they said they had submitted a “Re-amended generic defence” to the court.
“In this document we lay out clearly a number of admissions; these admissions are also covered in the accompanying summary which, we hope, will provide interested parties with an easily accessible reference,” said the statement.
“Both documents contain a full and unreserved apology for our part in a vetting information system run in the construction industry first through the Economic League and subsequently through The Consulting Association; we recognise and regret the impact it had on employment opportunities for those workers affected and for any distress and anxiety it caused to them and their families.
“We are making these admissions now as we believe it is the right thing to do; we are keen to be as transparent as possible and to do what we can to simplify the High Court hearing scheduled for mid-2016.
“We hope that the clarity this brings will be welcomed by the affected workers. Indeed, ever since the closure of The Consulting Association in 2009, we have been focused on trying to do the right thing by affected workers.”
It added: “We are approaching the High Court hearing in the spirit of openness and full transparency and continue to defend the claim strongly in relation to issues of causation and loss.”
Trade union Unite said the statement could lead to tens of millions of pounds being paid in damages to affected workers.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Blacklisting is a scandal that has ruined lives and led to hardship and misery for thousands of people. The admissions from the blacklisters and the damages for the blacklisted are an important step on the road to justice in righting that wrong.
“That road won’t be completed though, or the stain of blacklisting removed, until there is a full public inquiry and the livelihoods of the blacklisted restored by the firms involved giving them a permanent job.
“Those Tory ministers, who profess to be on the side of workers, while attacking trade unions should take note of these landmark admissions. They need to drop their draconian Trade Union bill which will make it easier for bad bosses to get away with injustices like blacklisting.”