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2012 Construction | Games Monitor

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2012 Construction

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.


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Sustainable conversations?

Went to the latest UEL/LLDC seminar on Sustainability last week and got into a bit of a spat with the speakers and another member of the audience over the sustainability example of London 2012. Samantha Heath of London Sustainability Exchange told us how she had, almost single-handedly, got Ken Livingstone to subscribe to sustainability targets of various kinds back in 2002 to 2004 when she was a member of the Greater London Assembly and how this all depended on Ken making top down decisions, all of which may be true. She had just been telling us what a wonderful example of sustainability the London Olympics had been and how it had created a new culture in the UK. I had to disagree with her that the Olympics had been such a sustainability success given, among other things, the botched remediation, the farce of the turbines and the failure to use the canals to shift materials, none of which she disputed. Another member of the audience chipped in about the sponsors and again she agreed this had not been a success, although she was keen on the torch relay which was a puzzle given the advertising platform it provided for Coca Cola.


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Lend Lease's Heygate Olympics

When is a bailout not a bailout? At the recent Heygate CPO hearing Lend Lease, who had to be bailed out by the government over the Athletes’ Village, apparently weren’t happy with this description, ie being bailed out, when they were challenged by objectors. @MichaellondonSF tweeted from the #heygate CPO hearing: ‘Dispute with LendLease about whether govt funding for Athletes' Village had been a bailout’. Others were quite clear that this was indeed a bailout!


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Olympics blacklisting - 'ODA were deceived, gullible or negligent'

Not so long ago the ODA was being touted by its former Chair, John Armitt, as a model for running infrastructure projects. Politicians and others should not interfere in these projects, which should receive cross-party support, instead they should be overseen by a quango - like the ODA. Armitt's proposal is backed by the Labour Party, which has created a panel to investigate the management of infrastructure projects. Lord Adonis, one of Armitt's panellists, rushed to endorse his proposal.

Armitt's big idea is based on his claim that the ODA 'got it right'. Far from getting it right the ODA failed to carry out its functions safely, as in the botched remediation, harassed and persecuted local residents affected by its programmes at places like Leyton Marsh and Leabank Square and lied constantly about alleged legacies such as Stratford City or the 'largest new park in Europe for 150 years'.

Now further evidence has emerged of its failure to investigate or even pay attention to allegations of blacklisting by its contractors. The case of Frank Morris was already known back in February 2011. The ODA took no action in response to the protests which followed over either the original sacking of a co-worker or of Frank Morris himself, when he raised objections to the original abuse.

In November 2012, the ODA's Chief Executive, Dennis Hone, told the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigating blacklisting:

“The ODA did not receive any evidence or could find any evidence of blacklisting on the Olympic Park during the construction phase or otherwise." He also claimed that: “At that time there was a discussion with our contractors and we requested evidence from people making the allegations and no evidence was forthcoming. If it had been then we would have gone after the contractors involved."


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Turning a deaf ear

One of the curiosities of the Olympics is how other groups like to be associated with it regardless of the realities on the ground. For example the Noise Abatement Society gave the ODA its so-called 'silent approach' award for its code of construction back in 2010. It specified the following:

The ODA’s Community Relations team work closely with the contractors to ensure that the construction programme has little impact on residents living close by. This is achieved through:

the provision of a free Construction Hotline

regular residents’ construction update meetings for people living closest to the park

the Corporate Social Responsibility programme and community events.


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Blacklisting - Ian Kerr comes clean

So now we have it from the horse's mouth. Ian Kerr of The Counsulting Association has given evidence to the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee that 'Sir Robert McAlpine, Balfour Beatty and possibly Skanska' had used his services to run blacklisting checks on workers employed on the Olympic Park.


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A construction boom and a lost opportunity

Along with all the stirring stuff about Olympics job creation, an Olympics boost to the economy, the Olympics transportation miracle comes the news in a 'government-commissioned report' that the Olympics created a construction boom from the building of venues and infrastructure.


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