UNION activists were joined by a 10ft rat as they protested outside the Glasgow offices of Transport Scotland over alleged 'blacklisting' of workers.

Members of the Unite union gathered at Buchanan House, Cowcaddens, flying flags and banners alongside an inflatable rat.

It was a symbol used to encourage companies not to 'rat out' their workers for being involved in union activism.

Unite claims a consortium of construction firms its calls BFK – BAM, Ferrovial and Kier – is responsible for the termination of a contract where 28 workers were sacked for trade union activity and for raising basic health and safety concerns.

The union is using a series of protests around the UK to call on BFK to negotiate an agreement guaranteeing trade union rights and access and to sign up to a 'zero tolerance' commitment to prevent blacklisting.

Transport Scotland is a Scottish Government agency responsible for awarding roads contracts and it has drawn up a shortlist for a £415million contract for improvements to the M8, M73 and M74.

One of the firms shortlisted is Amey, a subsidiary of Spanish organisation Ferrovial, one of the companies in the BFK consortium.

Unite organiser Willie Thomson said: "While our dispute remains unresolved and while evidence exists that blacklisting continues to happen on projects involving Amey, then we would question its suitability for the M8, M73, M74 project.

"The most contemporary evidence we have is a signed letter from the managing director of a firm called EIS, who stated it was his understanding EIS lost a BFK contract for the Crossrail project in London due to workers raising health and safety concerns and because of trade union activity.

"Blacklisted workers are denied employment indefinitely for reasons not related to performance – because they have been union members or because they raised genuine concerns.

"And the workers had no idea these lists even existed, so were not even given the chance to argue the case or defend themselves."

Amey said it was committed to investing in its employees and stressed it maintains a strong working relationship with a number of unions. A spokesman added: "The dispute by Unite relates to working practices on the Crossrail project in London.

"Amey has no involvement in, or employees working on, the Crossrail project."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "We are totally opposed to blacklisting. We are not aware of any evidence to suggest blacklisting has been used in connection with any contracts awarded by the Scottish Government or its agencies.

"Companies' suitability and their compliance with all relevant legal obligations are normally considered on a case by case basis as part of the procurement process for higher value contracts."

stef.lach@ heraldandtimes.co.uk