Scottish Labour issues blacklisting warning

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has demanded the Scottish Government must act to ensure construction companies caught up in the blacklisting scandal do not victimise workers who raise safety concerns.

In 2009, a UK government investigation uncovered a secret blacklisting operation involving Britain’s leading construction giants, including Kier, Balfour Beatty, McAlpine, Costain, Carillion and Skanska. Builders were denied work across the industry for raising safety concerns on sites.

Trade magazine Construction News reported last month that it had spoken to numerous people on sites that are not complying with Covid-19 safety rules, who are scared about speaking out for fear of blacklisting.

Many of the construction companies caught up in the blacklisting scandal are still under contract for major projects in Scotland, including on Scottish Government-funded projects.

Commenting on newly issued guidance from the Scottish Government, Richard Leonard asked: “What steps are contained in that guidance that ensure that workers in the construction industry who raise health and safety concerns when they return to work do not face the threat of blacklisting if they do?”

In response, Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop pointed to the Scottish Government’s joint statement with the Scottish Trades Union Congress and emphasised the legal right to stay away from unsafe workplaces. But she did not directly address the issue of blacklisting.

Mr Leonard also pressed Ms Hyslop over the apparent similarity between Boris Johnson’s mantra “if you can’t work from home, go out to work” and the First Minister’s statement to Parliament last week that her government would “focus first on industries where people simply can’t work from home.”

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