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Friday, June 7, 2013

Skates hits out over union blacklists

Clwyd South Assembly Member Ken Skates has called on the Welsh Government and local councils to ban companies holding union blacklists from being awarded public sector contracts in North Wales.

Earlier this year an investigation by the GMB into the construction industry revealed at least 111 workers from Wales on an illegal ‘blacklist’ of employees that belonged to a trade union.  The list was being used by some construction firms to prevent them from getting work.
 
It is believed 39 of those workers were from North Wales, with the majority unaware their personal data was being collated and used against them.
 
The Labour AM (pictured right) is calling on the Welsh Government and local councils not to award public sector contracts to any firm known to blacklist workers.
 
Mr Skates said: “It is shocking that some companies have chosen to illegally blacklist some workers because they are a member of a trade union.  This is the kind of spiteful practice that we all thought had died out many years ago.
 
“There were a lot of workers identified from North Wales on the construction list uncovered recently by the GMB, something that is very concerning indeed.  Construction is an important industry in North Wales and many families rely on it for their household income.
 
“The use of blacklists is totally unacceptable.  Construction is an industry that is heavily contract based, making workers in this sector a particular target for these kinds of practices. 
 
“I believe the Welsh Government and local councils should now work together to use their significant procurement powers to prevent any company that is known to have held a blacklist from winning public sector contracts in North Wales.

“Any that have held lists in the past should compensate workers they have discriminated against and take clear steps to demonstrate they do not blacklist workers known to a member of a trade union.
 
“Why should taxpayers money be used to subsidise companies that flout the law and blacklist hard-working people in the construction trade, or any other industry, that is a member of a trade union?

“We need to work together to stamp out this unscrupulous practice which is bad for local workers and bad for the local economy too.”
 
The Welsh Government has said its officials are currently considering the measures available to strengthen procurement policy and eradicate the unacceptable practice of blacklisting.  
 
They will shortly be issuing new guidance to all public bodies in Wales in relation to selecting suppliers, setting contract conditions and managing delivery of procurement.
 
Blacklisting was revealed in 2009 when the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) seized a database of 3,213 names of construction workers and environmental activists used by over 40 companies.

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