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Wales Assembly anounces ban on blacklisting

Unions praise ‘game-changing’ statement

The Welsh government came out swinging yesterday and said it would ban blacklisting firms from public-sector work.

Finance Minister Jane Hutt said that public-sector bodies in Wales will be able to block companies who have engaged in the heinous practice from bidding for contracts.

The Welsh Assembly has sent a note to all public bodies that spells out how they can help stamp out blacklisting.

Ms Hutt said: “The use of blacklists is wholly unacceptable and I fully sympathise with the individuals and their families who have suffered a terrible injustice as a consequence of contractors engaging in this practice.

“Procurement is an important part of the overall policy toolkit of the Welsh government.

“Under no circumstances is it acceptable for any business in receipt of public procurement expenditure to use blacklists.”

The Information Commissioner’s Office found more than 3,000 people — mostly construction workers — on a blacklist run by the Consulting Association when it raided the firm’s offices in 2009.

More than 40 major building firms subscribed to the list. Campaigners say those on the list were denied work simply for raising health and safety concerns or for union activities.

Some companies are believed to have held on to the names even after the raid.

A number of unions including Ucatt, GMB and Unite have backed the anti-blacklist campaign.

The TUC announced this week that a day of action would be held in November to draw attention to the practice.

Ucatt general secretary Steve Murphy applauded the Welsh government’s decision.

“This is a massive step forward in the campaign for justice for blacklisted workers,” he said.

“The construction companies involved in blacklisting must understand this issue won’t go away until they pay compensation to the workers they blacklisted.”

He said that both Westminster and Holyrood should urgently follow Wales’s example.

GMB national officer Justin Bowden said: “This fantastic announcement by the Welsh Assembly is a game-changer.

“The message to the companies who blacklisted Welsh citizens is loud and clear. If you want public contracts in Wales then own up, clean up and pay up.”


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