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Crossrail: ‘We have never blacklisted construction workers’

14:50 17 January 2013

Crossrail bosses have today hit back at London Assembly claims that construction workers were allegedly removed from the project for raising health and safety concerns.

The Assembly has called on Boris Johnson to provide evidence of steps taken to make sure “blacklisting” is not being used in hiring and firing of people working on the £15 billion project.

Members voted yesterday (Weds) for the Mayor to reject the practice and to emphasise that workers must have the right to bring up safety concerns without fear of damaging their livelihoods.

But Crossrail later insisted there had been no blacklisting—and that the allegations involved outside contractors which were dealt with even before the project got under way.

The Assembly’s resolution stated: “It is deeply concerning that 28 workers were allegedly removed from this project after safety issues were raised.

“The Assembly calls on the Mayor to disassociate himself from such practices—every employee must be protected in raising health and safety concerns without fear of reprisals.”

It follows reports in a Sunday newspaper about such practices in the construction industry.

The resolution was put forward by the Assembly’s budget chairman and member for east London, John Biggs, who said: “Links between the shameful practice of blacklisting and Crossrail’s industrial relations manager risk tarnishing the integrity of this project.

“The bad practice must in no way be linked to Crossrail, as it is funded by the taxpayer. Using blacklisting databases needs to be brought to an end.”

Officials from the Information Commissioner in 2009 raided the offices of the Consulting Association, a firm operating a blacklist where job applicants were checked against a secret list of workers to be barred from the industry, the Assembly was told.

A Crossrail statement today claimed: “It is simply not true that 28 workers were removed from the project for raising health and safety concerns.

“A contract ended in September with our western tunnels contractor who subsequently made 28 workers redundant.”

The industrial relations manager mentioned in the Assembly’s motion was an outside consultant whose previous employer “was found by an Employment tribunal to have been involved in blacklisting activities,” the company pointed out. He was “not involved in recruitment or job applications” while engaged on Crossrail.

The Consulting Association was closed down in 2009 by the Information Commissioner. Crossrail’s first major contracts were not awarded until 2010.

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