Fury over FTSE 100 ‘blacklister’ Amec’s role in £8bn nuclear plant

Amec’s links to firm that ran secret database may make it unfit for contracts, union says

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The Independent Online

Trade unions are pressuring nuclear authorities and the Welsh government over whether the FTSE 100 engineering group Amec is “fit and proper” to be working on the next generation of Britain’s atomic power plants.

The GMB union is enraged that a company that its officials say has not apologised for its alleged role in the construction blacklisting scandal is allowed to work on the £8bn Wylfa nuclear project in North Wales.

Amec was one of dozens of construction firms that used the services of The Consulting Association, which held a secret database of more than 3,000 names who were allegedly troublemakers. Those people say they have found themselves effectively barred from working for those companies, 11 of which were named as co-defendants in a legal action concerning the blacklist brought earlier this year.

Eight of those companies have since set up a compensation scheme available to those who can prove they have a “legitimate claim” to having been blacklisted and seeing their income taken away from them. Amec, which moved its business model away from the construction industry towards the energy market six years ago, has not participated in this scheme.

The GMB, which has initiated one of several separate legal cases against construction groups, believes it is possible that blacklisting occurred on Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) sites on which Amec has had contracts.

As part of the Coalition’s National Infrastructure Plan announced last week, the Government gave a loan guarantee to Hitachi and the Horizon consortium behind Wylfa. It was then confirmed that Amec would be providing technical design and specialist engineering services to Horizon.

The GMB has asked the NDA to put the issue of whether Amec should be allowed to participate on new nuclear projects on its next board agenda. The Welsh government will soon be sent a letter requesting its views on Amec’s involvement in the proposed Wylfa station, which will employ up to 7,000 people during the construction of the reactors and their later operation.

Gary Smith, the GMB’s national secretary for energy, claims: “We know Amec was involved in unlawful blacklisting. We have to ask serious questions on whether there was blacklisting on NDA sites. And we have to ask whether a company involved in this type of activity – and refused to apologise for it – is fit and proper to be working on a state nuclear site.”

A spokesman for Amec said: “Amec does not operate a policy of blacklisting individuals and the senior management of the company would not condone such a policy.

“Amec decided in 2007 that it was not appropriate to use the services of The Consulting Association and stopped doing so well before the Information Commissioner’s investigation into the organisation. Amec exited the construction industry in the same year.

“The Information Commissioner’s Office wrote to us on 22 June 2009 to say that it has decided not to take any enforcement action against Amec.”