Dundee SNP - Still the blacklister's friend

Towards the beginning of last night's debate about the future of the V & A project I asked a very simple question.  Is it Dundee City Council's policy not to give contracts to companies which have been guilty of blacklisting?  The answer from the Leader of the Administration was 'yes'.  You will then be as confused as I am that we left the meeting having awarded a £80 million contract to a blacklister which has not made appropriate reparation.

Back in September I tried to get the council to put pressure on BAM to make the appropriate reparations, effectively to apologise and to pay an agreed level of compensation to those who were blacklisted on that occasion the SNP and Conservative councillors voted against my amendment.

In September there was much talk of ensuring that BAM had heard the concerns of councillors and that these would be fully answered in the report produced for a subsequent meeting.  For information the report is available here (pages 39-47 of the pdf file.)

Paragraph 10.3 of the report is the relevant one in terms of Blacklisting and for ease I have copied it below:

'Furthermore, as a result of the Council’s previous concerns over contractors’ previous

involvement in Blacklisting practices, BAM have stated categorically that BAM

Construction in Scotland did not use the services of The Consulting Association nor

engage in any activities relating to blacklisting. They have, however, confirmed that BAM

Construction in other parts of the UK used the referral services of TCA to a very limited

degree and all such usage ceased completely in 1998 when the UK Data Protection Act

was passed. The company has accounted for this, apologised, put appropriate procedures

and training in place to prevent any such occurrence in the future, and has given a public

commitment to compensate fairly anyone who can show they have suffered any detriment

because of BAM’s historical involvement with the TCA.'

At best this paragraph is just plain wrong.  At the meeting I asked representatives of BAM about evidence given under oath to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons by Mr Patrick Swift a retired HR Director of BAM Nuttall.  In that sworn evidence he made clear that  BAM were members of the Consulting Association, the organisation which facilitated blacklisting, until 2009, continuing to make payments, continuing to attend meetings, continuing to have names checked against the blacklist and to supply information for the blacklist.  I was told that BAM Scotland had not done any of these things, however on further investigation we discovered that there is no such company as BAM Scotland and that BAM Construction are registered in London and in case they are all part of the same group.  I also reminded the meeting that Mr Swift had given evidence under oath and to have been dishonest when so doing would have been a serious criminal offence.  (Mr Swift's evidence can be found here pages 105-124 of the pdf file.)

I also pointed out that two of the twenty-five people taking legal action against BAM are from Musselburgh and from Alloa, which the last time I checked were in Scotland.  So here we have a company which has taken part in blacklisting and which has not made the appropriate reparation to those concerned.  From my perspective what BAM need to do now is very simple, they should apologise to those who have been blacklisted and pay appropriate compensation and make a commitment not to be involved in blacklisting any more.  Perhaps they could use some of the £80 million that they will receive for this contract to do so.

After receiving the responses from BAM I asked officers and the Convener if they still stood by paragraph 10.3 of the report.  They said that they did.  I will continue to pursue this issue.

I tried to move an amendment to the report in terms of blacklisting, my amendment is below:

'As a further recommendation, notes paragraph 10.3 and recognises that it does not adequately deal with the issue of blacklisting.  BAM does have a track record of blacklisting across the United Kingdom and has not made appropriate reparation.  Therefore no payments should be made to BAM unless and until they have made adequate reparation for blacklisting through the appropriate legal processes which are currently ongoing.'

Councillor Ken Guild the leader of the council ruled my amendment out of order. 

For me the moral case is clear Dundee City Council has a clear and unambiguous policy against blacklisting.  We have just let one of the largest contracts which we will ever let to a self-declared blacklister which has not made reparation.  This is unacceptable and I call upon BAM to wipe the slate clean and cleanse their wrong-doing with regard to blacklisting and then we could move forward with this important project for the city of Dundee.