A press release from the cross-party group of MPs says that is was highly critical of the Construction Workers Compensation Scheme (TCWCS) scheme, but does acknowledge that only those companies who set it up have taken any steps “to remedy the sins of the past”. Talks between the TCWCS and lawyers and unions representing claimants broke down in July 2014 over the amount of money being offered, and the scheme subsequently opened without their support.
The MPs committee was critical of the lack of prior agreement with the trade unions over the scheme; the low levels of compensation being offered; and the fact that those participating in the High Court litigation are not eligible to access the scheme. It also said that there should have been an offer of “positive action measures to upskill and re-employ the victims of blacklisting”. The MPs’ report also calls for a statutory code of practice on pre-employment vetting to eradicate the practice of blacklisting in the future, saying that a voluntary code is not sufficient.
Ian Davidson MP, chair of the committee, said: “While we are highly critical of the scheme and the way it was introduced, at least those eight companies have made even this effort. We do not accept the excuses made from the other companies for their non-participation and interpret this as evidence of their unwillingness to self-cleanse. “Despite the grave flaws in the scheme, our main concern is that the victims of blacklisting receive at least some measure of compensation. The ICO [Information Commissioners Office] should redouble its efforts to find and contact as many of the individuals whose names who were on the original TCA list as possible–including the families of those blacklisted workers who may have passed away.”
However, the TCWCS scheme also issued a statement defending the scheme and its intentions, and pointing out that since it launched it had paid out compenation to 149 people. It said: “The scheme, which opened in July 2014, offers straightforward and easy access to compensation for anyone who has been affected by the existence of TCA records. It is a faster and less stressful process than a court case and since launch has received hundreds of eligible applications. Awards start at £4,000 for those on whom very basic information was held, rising to £100,000 where there is proof of significant loss of earnings. The lowest level of compensation through the scheme is intended to reflect a basic award for breach of data protection where there is no evidence of financial loss. In addition, we are paying for legal advice for anyone applying to the scheme to ensure they make the right decision for their circumstances; and refresher training, to update skills, experience and certification, is available to anyone entering the scheme to ensure this is not an impediment to future employment. We were disappointed that that the launch of TCWCS was not supported by the unions; we note that the final report references our engagement with the unions prior to the launch and recognises key changes were made to the scheme as a result of these conversations. We strongly refute any suggestion that we had attempted to mislead any of our audiences or conceal the outcome of our discussions with the unions. That said, we wrote to MPs in July 2014 apologising for any ambiguity our original letter may have created.”
According to the GMB union, the next hearing in the High Court in London to seek compensation for 122 of its members blacklisted by Carillion and other construction employers is due in May. The claims were originally served in November 2013. In a statement, Justin Bowden, GMB national officer, said: “The only way the questions posed by the Scottish Affairs Committee will get answered is from a full public inquiry.”
Steve Murphy, general secretary of UCATT, said: “This puts fresh pressure on the government to launch a public inquiry so workers and their families whose lives were ruined can learn the full truth once and for all.”
Source: Construction Manager - 27/3/15