Opinion: Dark days of blacklist are behind us

Grant Prior 12 years ago
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Just as the Olympic torch shines on what construction can achieve – the industry’s name is dragged through the mud again by a still festering sore from the past.

The blacklist was a shameful episode for which the guilty should be held to account.

But it shouldn’t be used as a stick to constantly beat the modern-day construction industry which has transformed itself almost beyond all recognition in the last decade.

Some of the industry’s biggest names were caught up in the blacklisting scandal.

But it is many of those very firms who have led the transformation of UK construction and are now in the vanguard of modern working practices.

Scandals like the blacklist allow national newspaper writers to paint our industry as a place of cowed workers risking their lives every day as they operate in perpetual fear of employers.

Some smaller sites still have their share of rotten bosses who rule jobs like tyrants.

But if you raise a safety concern on a major contractor’s site, you are more likely to get a bonus than be shown the door.

Projects run by the industry’s biggest names boast safety records which are outstanding compared to the last two decades.

Construction has seen some dark days when it comes to health and safety.

But these are more enlightened times and the major players have made the biggest improvements.

The blacklist also belongs to bleaker times and its evil influence waned gradually from its heyday in the late seventies and early eighties.

That it was still being used in recent memory is a disgrace and the legal process will decide if anyone else should pay.

Blacklist victims deserve their day in court and any compensation coming their way.

But the sins of the past shouldn’t be allowed to totally overshadow the progress that has created the modern-day construction industry.

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