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Performance Rating App for Asbestos Labour Under Scrutiny by Trade Union

Performance Rating App for Asbestos Labour Under Scrutiny by Trade Union
03 September 2020
 

An app which rates the performance of asbestos workers has been criticised by Unite, amidst concerns it could be used to victimise employees.

The Asbestos Labour Feedback App (ALFA) is the first of its kind in the industry, and enables Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA) licensed asbestos removal contractors to rate the performance and behaviour of operatives.

Unite, the UK’s construction union, is concerned that there is no evidence that the app includes sufficient safeguards to prevent blacklisting and discrimination to occur:

“Unite fears that in an attempt to ensure competency levels, ARCA has created a system which allows unscrupulous contractors to victimise and blacklist workers who, for example, may have challenged dangerous working practices, giving them a low score when rating their ability,” said Unite National Officer for Construction, Ian Woodland.

 “A low mark would then result in the affected worker struggling to be hired for future asbestos removal work.”

 

Rating Competence, Knowledge, Skills and Behaviour

 

“Extensive discussions were entered into with our lawyers prior to commencing the project to ascertain that the rating process within ALFA did not breach any applicable laws. The issue of blacklisting was raised during the discussions with our lawyers and we have been assured that the proper use of ALFA cannot be construed as blacklisting."

–ARCA Spokesperson

 

ARCA released the app just two days ago (01 September 2020). They cited in a press release that having an overall performance rating available for an operative, as well as certificate information, available in one app, will provide contractors with a better understanding of the competency of an agency operative before they arrive on site.

“The Association has a membership of virtually half of all licensed asbestos removal contractors in the UK, and many have told us that their biggest issue is the quality of labour. That is the competence, knowledge, skills and behaviour,” commented Jason Davy, Chairman of the ARCA.

However, Woodland has written to Davy on behalf of Unite, raising his concerns about the potential for abuse on the app:

“Unite is fully committed to the underlying principle that asbestos removal work must be undertaken by trained workers who undertake the work safely. Unite is concerned that there is no evidence that the app includes sufficient safeguards to prevent blacklisting and discrimination to occur.”

 “Unite has written to Mr Davy to raise our concerns and is seeking a meeting in order to ensure that these concerns are resolved.

“In the meantime, Unite would urge that the rollout of the app is suspended in order to ensure that workers cannot be blacklisted, discriminated or victimised by this technology.”

 

“Unite is concerned that there is no evidence that the app includes sufficient safeguards to prevent blacklisting and discrimination to occur.”

–Ian Woodland

Unite National Officer for Construction

ThisWeekinFM approached ARCA for comment and in response, a spokesperson supplied the following statement:

“Extensive discussions were entered into with our lawyers prior to commencing the project to ascertain that the rating process within ALFA did not breach any applicable laws.  The issue of blacklisting was raised during the discussions with our lawyers and we have been assured that the proper use of ALFA cannot be construed as blacklisting. We will issue a statement in due course once we have had a chance to consider Unite’s comments.”

Picture: A black and white photograph of a smartphone in a person's hands

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 03 September 2020

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