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Scottish MPs examine Atlanco Rimec blacklisting claims

SCOTTISH MPs are to re-examine reports of illegal blacklisting in the wake of fresh allegations against recruitment company Atlanco Rimec.

The international employment agency found itself in hot water last week after a Danish TV station’s investigation into the firm yielded shocking disclosures of a long-standing secret database of workers.

DR1 reporters found that those in trade unions or seeking better pay and conditions were typically not given jobs even when described as “good” or “excellent” workers, while a former manager speaking anonymously described union members as “a complete no-no.”

Atlanco Rimec has denied the allegations, describing its register as “above board.”

But Commons Scottish affairs committee chairman Labour MP Ian Davidson said yesterday that the database’s existence had only vindicated his panel’s ongoing investigations.

Atlanco Rimec has offices in Northampton and kept thousands of construction workers on its books, meaning the allegations could cause shockwaves in Britain as well.

Mr Davidson said he would ask the panel to consider further hearings in light of the Atlanco affair.

“What we have seen shows clearly that the use of agency workers is a weak spot in eradicating blacklisting and we therefore recommended that direct employment and transparent recruitment practices should be standard for all public-sector contracts in the construction industry,” he said.

Yet the coalition’s employment relations minister Jenny Willott had rejected the advice in a letter to the committee earlier this month.

Construction union Ucatt general secretary Steve Murphy said direct client employment, instead of through the agencies, was “vital to stamping out” illegal blacklisting.

“The government’s response demonstrates that they do not care about the victims of blacklisting or in stopping blacklisting from occurring,” he said.

Union suspicions of blacklisting were confirmed in 2009 when investigators raided the offices of the Consulting Association, retrieving a database of 3,200 would-be construction workers and dozens of firms implicated as clients.

The conspiracy took on even greater dimensions last year when the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) reported it was “likely that all special branches were involved in providing information” for blacklists, while the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) confirmed that several entries featured information exclusive to MI5 or police sources.

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