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Government urged to ban blacklisting firms from Westminster revamp

Westminster 347972 960 720

Contractors which blacklisted workers because of their personal beliefs should be banned from working on the Palace of Westminster restoration project, said Labour MP Christian Matheson.

Speaking at the second reading of the Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill, Matheson urged the government to “send out a clear message” by refusing to accept bids for work on the restoration project from construction firms involved in blacklisting.

The blacklisting effort had been covertly funded by more than 40 construction firms between 1993 and 2009 through an organisation called the Consulting Association. It contained previous employment records, details about trade union memberships and summaries of workers’ political beliefs. It was produced and used by contractors and Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Skanska UK, Vinci, Carillion, Sir Robert McAlpine and Balfour Beatty.

Last week, the seven contractors agreed to pay £1.9M in damages to 53 workers who were illegally blacklisted. A previous £55M compensation settlement was reached in 2016, after 412 workers discovered that they had been put on the blacklist, preventing them from getting jobs.

Matheson added: “This is a prestigious project and companies that have been involved in blacklisting construction workers will not be welcome to submit bids.

“I shall be pressing the simple case that any construction company that is found to be associated with blacklisting workers and has failed to accept their wrongdoing and compensate those workers for that treatment should be publicly excluded from bidding from these prestigious contracts.”

The Palace of Westminster is set for a £4bn restoration of ageing systems as well as repairs to stonework. The programme will involve the House of Lords and the House of Commons vacating the building for an estimated six to eight years.

Under the terms of the Draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill, a sponsor body will be in charge of creating a delivery authority to complete the works. It will also be responsible for ensuring the project remains on time and within its budget.  

A parliament spokesperson added: “The Restoration and Renewal Programme is committed to being open and transparent with the spending on all its contracts for supplies, service and works.

“All our restoration and renewal procurement will require suppliers to comply with all relevant legislation, and will require firms to take all possible steps to ensure compliance with the highest standards of employment best practice.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Bit harsh. It's over ten years ago, the firms have paid the price and also improved their governance

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