Tuesday, 23 July 2013

CROSSRAIL & THE BLACKLISTING

I've learned that the select committee has written to the Government challenging them to investigate blacklisting on the Crossrail project following Gail Cartmails' (GC) recent evidence to them on 2 July 2013. I've listened again to the first thirty minutes or so of her evidence and believe this is enough to establish a reasonable account of what may have gone on here when she refers to the removal of Frank Morris (FM) from the project.

UNITE EVIDENCE 

The 'So Called' Blacklist

Firstly GC states that I published a list at 14:38. She later refers to this as a blacklist at 14:43 and later refers to it again stating that FM was "already on another blacklist already in the public domain". At no time does she state that her union were in full possession of those lists and all my blacklisting evidence as far back as 2005 and nor do any of the committee present question her on why the union buried all this evidence back then.

The document she refers to is the lists of approximately 500 names from the Jubilee Line (JLE), Pfizer (P) and Royal Opera House (ROH) projects from 2000. We already know from my evidence that this was three lists of names that were circulated between Emcor Drake & Scull (JLE) and Balfours (P and ROH), for the Labour Managers to make their own specific checks between the respective companies.

We also know from my evidence that a selection process took place on the JLE whereby all the supervisors were called to a meeting to single out the "troublemakers". I learned this from a supervisor on the project, Tony Willoughby, and you can read my notes from the telephone conversation with him on 4 May 2006 at item 2q here:

TONY WILLOUGHBY EVIDENCE

We also know from my evidence that only a selection of these 500 names made it onto the Consulting Association (CA) database, which would most certainly have emanated from that selection process. GC confirms that FM did not have a CA file at 15:05, so he was not highlighted in that supervisors' meeting on the JLE.

The HR Managers

GC states that 44% of the CA main contact HR managers named by the Kerrs are currently working on Crossrail and uses the suggestion of an "oversight" as the reason FM managed to bypass their checking procedures and gain work on the project. If they were operating a blacklisting procedure on the project as GC suggests and FM did have previous, then he would certainly not have gained work on the project in the first place. Certainly not with that level of HR management with that much blacklisting experience present.

The Sub Contractor EIS

GC consistently refers to EIS (FM's employer) as a sub-contractor, but does once state at 14:49 that "the owner of EIS as a labour supplier was very canny". This does suggest that EIS were most probably a recruitment agency supplying temporary labour on an hourly basis to the project.

There's a clear definition between a sub-contractor and a labour agency. A sub-contractor agrees a fixed price for a fixed section of work and employs their own labour, supervision and management to install, check and invoice periodically for the completed work and any agreed revisions. A recruitment agency simply provides operatives at an hourly rate on a temporary basis to suit the fluctuating needs of the build process. 

In my experience, agency labour can be released with no notice unless both parties have a written contract that states otherwise.

The select committee may have seen evidence of a 'sub-contract order', but was this a sub-contract order for a fixed piece of work or just a sub-contract order to supply operatives as and when required at an hourly rate from a recruitment agency?

The fact that Frank Morris was moved about on the project suggests he was an agency worker, but only scrutiny of the actual contract between the parties will establish the true contractual relationship between EIS and their client.

The 18 Month Contract Extension

GC also states that EIS were given an 18 month contract extension. This may be, but if EIS were a labour agency then that contract would surely specify that the supply levels were to be determined by the client. It could be for 27 operatives one week and 5 the next. Again only close scrutiny of that contract will determine whether EIS were a temporary labour supplier or a fixed price sub-contractor.

If EIS were a sub-contractor with an 18 month contract with fixed terms then surely they would have solid grounds to sue for breach of contract and loss of earnings.

GC also states that EIS is now in liquidation through the loss of that contract. This would suggest that EIC may only have been supplying labour to that single contract. 27 operatives supplied to one project? GC states that the owner of EIS, Rod Turner went through all the CV's of the 27 operatives and employed them personally. It does sound like this was a small labour agency owned by one person with a small number of operatives supplied to one project on a weekly supply and demand basis.

Frank Morris

You will see from my evidence that my career progressed from being an electrician (who had worked on big projects in London), to owning my own recruitment agency and then on to become the National Labour Manager at Carillion where one of my responsibilities was the procurement of all mechanical and electrical agency labour. So I have a good wealth of knowledge in this area.

In my opinion, agency workers/operatives know when their section of work is running down. It's blatantly obvious and they call around other agencies looking for work for the following week.

I've studied what FM said on the Panorama programme at 25:00. He said "I said I'd like to become a shop steward. It wasn't to cause problems. It was.. They're not gonna sack a shop steward, I'll be able to keep working". This strongly suggests that FM attempted to become a shop steward for job security reasons. Those were his words and would support the theory that work was most probably running down on certain sections of the project.

Summary

I have serious concerns that the trade unions are using the blacklisting issue to suit their own political agenda which is a tragedy for the thousands of workers who have suffered as a consequence of the blacklisting. Where were they from 2005 to 2012, four years after David Clancy raided the offices of the CA in August 2008. Nowhere. Not a peep from them.

Were the main contractors on Crossrail operating a blacklisting procedure? We don't know. But what we do know is that the members of the select committee present on 2 July 2013 could have asked GC the questions I'm raising to gain a much clearer picture of what really went on here before calling for an investigation but they did not. There does appear to be a tail and a dog here and one does appear to be wagging the other.

Chuka Umunna has again refused to provide the information I've requested under the Freedon of Information Act so I've now officially requested this under section 7 of the Data Protection Act following advice from David Clancy at the ICO. There has to be a reason why he does not want to provide this to me. 

I've also made a data protection information request to Unite for all the information they hold in respect of me, so I should have a clearer picture of what's going on between the Labour Party and the trade unions soon. That is if they don't continue to give me the run around.

Watch this space...

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