Today a group of 60 Members of Parliament have signed a Parliamentary motion, tabled by Chuka Umunna MP, calling on the House of Commons and Lords Commissions to strip Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd of the contract for the restoration work of Big Ben, and award the contract to another construction company that does not have a history of involvement in blacklisting.
In 2009 the Information Commissioner raided the offices of the Consulting Association and found a blacklist of over 3000 construction workers that had been used to vet employees and unfairly deny people work, which resulted in unemployment, stress and hardship for many construction workers and their families. Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd not only helped to found and fund the Consulting Association, but provided two of its Chairs.
Commenting on Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd being awarded the contract, Chuka Umunna MP said:
“Big Ben is a national symbol of our democracy. Awarding the contract for work on Big Ben to Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd is an insult to the victims of blacklisting in the construction sector.
“People can lose faith in politics if injustices are left unchallenged and our public institutions do not lead by example. Awarding the contract for this symbolic work to a company that was at the heart of blacklisting construction workers both undermines our democracy and leaves us looking out of touch as an institution.
“We are calling on the House of Commons and Lords Commissions to rethink their decision, and award the contract for this symbolic work to another construction company that does not have a history of involvement in blacklisting.”
Jack Dromey MP, Shadow Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said:
“To be denied work because you are a trade unionist or you have raised health and safety concerns is an affront to democracy. Blacklisting is not history; it is a scandal that has never gone away. Forty years ago I was blacklisted by the Economic League. I was lucky and only out of work for a matter of months, but tens of thousands of others paid a very heavy price, some of them for decades.
“Awarding Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd the contract for work on Big Ben – a symbol of our democracy – sends a message that firms can engage in unacceptable practices like blacklisting without serious consequences”