Crossrail and Olympics blacklisting disputes vindicated as MPs grill HR director Pat Swift
By Blacklist Support Group
Campaigners celebrated yesterday (Wed 18 Dec) claiming the bitter year long blacklisting dispute on Crossrail and protests at Olympics were totally vindicated following evidence given by Pat Swift to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee in the Westminster parliament. Pat Swift was the head of Human Resources for the BAM - Ferrovial - Kier (BFK) consortium on Crossrail and the manager at the centre of the claims that UNITE shop steward Frank Morris had been dismissed in September 2012 because of his previous union activities.
In an evidence session lasting nearly two and a half hours Swift admitted being the "main contact" with the Consulting Association between 2004-2009 when he was Director of HR for BAM Nuttall, saying that junior admin staff in his department were in "constant communication on a weekly basis" with the blacklisting organisation. Swift admitted that the names of every applicant for hourly paid positions were checked on all projects undertaken by the company during his time in charge, including on the Olympics. The claims about blacklisting on the Olympics Park were rigorously denied at the time by the Olympics Delivery Authority and all the major contractors despite protests by blacklisted workers themselves - the Select Committee investigation has subsequently forced admissions from Sir Robert McApline, Skanska, Balfour Beatty and now BAM that they all carried out blacklisting checks on the project.
Swift claimed the Consulting Association was simply a "general referencing service" but when challenged by MPs as to why the entire operation was carried out in secret he responded "because it was probably a dubious practice" later adding "it was certainly illegal".
When the Information Commissioners Office discovered the blacklist in 2009, BAM carried out the investigation into their own usage of the blacklisting service. To incredulity from the public gallery, Swift admitted that he himself carried out the internal investigation and to this date BAM have not apologised or offered to compensate a single worker. Swift conceded that "I don't think the investigation I carried out in 2009 was that robust" - a comment the committee agreed with.
It was questions about the dismissal of Frank Morris from Crossrail that caused the most consternation among MPs. Under questioning from Lyndsay Roy MP, Swift originally claimed "I can't recall" stating "Not at anytime do I question Franks ability as an electrician". But Swift later admitted that he did have a conversation with Ron Turner, managing director of EIS Ltd (the sub-contractor that Frank Morris was working for). When pushed Swift said "I said to Ron Turner he had raised trouble"........ "I pointed out to him that he had caused trouble at the Olympics". When pressed on what this trouble was, Swift replied "This guy had been on a demonstration". Graeme Morrice MP responded "a perfectly legal demonstration against an illegal blacklist?"
Finally the committee chair Ian Davidson MP, asked directly "Did you ask Ron Turner to sack Frank Morris?". Swift replied "I may have".
Despite saying "I regret" nearly 200 times during the evidence session Swift stuck to his position drawn up after legal advice by Leightons solicitors and paid for by his ex-employer BAM Nuttal that the Consulting Association was simply a referencing service and repeatedly stated: "We didn't blacklist anyone" and "We didn't supply any evidence to the Consulting Association and I never got any information".
It was at this point that the MPs raised the example of Mickey Guyll, a crane driver for Bam Nuttall during the construction of the Docklands Light Railway who was added to the blacklist after he became a safety rep following the death of a co-worker on site.
At one point, Ian Davidson MP said that the evidence given by Swift "defies belief" and Jim McGovern MP said Swift was "one of the most evasive witnesses ever".
Both Mickey Guyll and Frank Morris were in the public gallery sitting immediately behind Pat Swift during the evidence session. After the hearing Frank Morris refused to comment on the Crossrail dispute but said "This time last year, managers were taunting me on the picketline by saying "What are your kids getting for Christmas?"
The Blacklist Support Group issued the following statement:
We have been campaigning against the blacklisting of trade union members on the Olympics and Crossrail for over 4 years. We held perfectly legal demonstrations but our claims were totally rubbished by the building firms, the ODA and Crossrail. Those in authority claimed that they were completely unaware of the practice and that blacklisting was a "myth".
The excellent investigation by the Scottish Affairs Select Committee has completely vindicated everything we have said. We salute all the MPs on the committee for exposing the truth.
We look forward to the day when the full conspiracy is exposed at the High Court and an independent Public Inquiry.
Full footage of the evidence can be viewed here: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=14508
Submitted by Steve Dowding on Sat, 21/12/2013 - 17:49.