The Giant Rat in the City

A few times more recently I’ve been confronted with a Giant inflatable Rat on my walks around the City.

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This is down to one of the more bitter industrial disputes of recent years and relates back to one of Europe’s largest engineering projects, Crossrail.

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UNITE, one of the UK’s largest trade unions, claims that the BFK consortium involved in building crossrail is “blacklisting” workers over safety concerns. BFK denies the claims. A former electrician on the project backs the accusations. Frank Morris is raising an employment tribunal and “blacklisting test case” over claims he was dismissed from his job on Crossrail last September after voicing safety concerns.

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The issue of blacklisting in the construction industry was brought to light in 2009 when it emerged that more than half of the country’s leading construction firms were using a list – with more than 3,000 names on it – run by the Consulting Association. Unions say that many workers on the list were forced into destitution with little or no pension provision as work dried up.

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Unite claims some of the surviving companies that used the Consulting Association now work on the Crossrail project. And some of the individuals who acted as contacts for the Consulting Association now work for contractors engaged on Crossrail.

Crossrail said the consortium denied the claims. A spokesman told the Guardian: “All contractors working on Crossrail must comply with the law, which explicitly outlaws this practice [blacklisting]. Crossrail has made clear to the trades unions that we will take firm, decisive and immediate action if any substantive evidence is presented. To date, none has been forthcoming, despite repeated requests.”

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Whatever the truth of the matter, it has clearly evoked strong feelings on the part of the union members I’ve met. It’s difficult to imagine they are manufacturing their concern on this topic.

Taken with my Nikon D800E and Sigma 35mm lens and FujiFilm X-E1 and Zeiss Carl Touit 32mm lens.

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