19 Days Remaining

Tuesday 18th
posted by Conrad Landin in Britain

CONTRACTS to build the new super-speed railway linking London to the north have been handed to a host of firms caught up in the blacklisting scandal.

Ministers announced £6.6 billion of contracts yesterday for building infrastructure for the first phase of the High Speed 2 project, which will run between London and Birmingham.

The government said the project could support 16,000 jobs. The TUC welcomed the news as a “shot in the arm for Brexit Britain.”

But all of the contracts have been awarded to partnerships including construction giants who illegally maintained a database of trade union activists. Via a shady bosses’ club called the Consulting Association, some builders were denied jobs for decades.

The firms apologised for their actions in the High Court — and paid out millions to workers.

One blacklister, Carillion, won two contracts worth £1.4 billion, jointly with fellow blacklister Kier and French firm Eiffage.

A joint venture between two other Consulting Association members, Balfour Beatty and Vinci, will trouser £2.5bn for building two tunnels in the West Midlands.

Blacklist Support Group Dave Smith, who himself appeared on the database, told the Star: “Despite admitting their guilt to a major human rights violation in the High Court, the punishment for these multinationals is to be granted yet more public-sector contracts.

“The Tories have once again awarded their friends in big business. So much for them being the party of workers’ rights.”

Other companies caught up in the scandal which have now taken HS2 contracts include Skanska, Costain and Sir Robert McAlpine. Only one firm which admitted liability, Laing O’Rourke, was not given work in yesterday’s announcement.

Carillion has also recently faced financial woes, with its share price falling by 70 per cent last week.

Labour shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald called on his Tory opposite number Chris Grayling to “clarify what steps he has taken to assure himself of the suitability of the decision to award contracts to Carillion.”

Construction union Unite called for an “all-embracing industrial relations agreement,” while rail union RMT warned there must be “no casualisation or cutting of corners” on the contracts.

The government announced yesterday the final route for the HS2 north of Birmingham. The eastern branch to Leeds will bypass Sheffield, with a few services running to Sheffield Midland on existing tracks.

Labour Rotherham MP Sarah Champion said she was “furious” that South Yorkshire “won’t get a proper stop.”