Saturday, 27 September 2014

NRL Continue the Blacklist?

NRL Continue the Blacklist?

A number of weeks ago Alan Wainright, the whistleblower who exposed the Consulting Association construction blacklist, published an article on his blog relating to employment agencies involvement in blacklisting. We are all suspicious about the underhanded tactics of agencies with blacklisting and the Umbrella Scam, but this article does appear to have evidence that NRL were complicit in blacklisting workers, including respected rank & file leader electrician Steve Acheson.
  It is time to expose these parasite agencies and all that they are up to, by undermining our ability to make a decent living through the "Umbrella Scam" and preventing us from making a living at all through blacklisting! If you have ever worked through NRL then this is a must read.

Please read and share this far and wide!


Following the recent suspicions that blacklisting may have moved to the recruitment agencies providing labour to the construction industry, I went back to some information provided by an ex colleague at Carillion, Mike Connolly.

Carillion had their own in house recruitment agency NCS (Postworth Limited) providing over a thousand construction tradesmen to their projects and my role was to set up a mechanical and electrical (M&E) division, which I did successfully. Mike was brought in a few years later to work in the NCS M&E business, but had no knowledge of the CA at the time. Mike has subsequently worked for AMEC and Haden Young (Balfour Beatty Engineering Services) in similar labour recruitment roles.


In May 2010 Mike provided some information regarding the construction labour agency, NRL. I missed this at the time as it didn't seem that relative with everything else that was going on.

NRL were one of our three main preferred agency labour suppliers during my time at Carillion and have grown to be the fifth largest agency in the construction sector according to their website.

NRL originate from Cumbria and their M&E office in Washington in the North East. They now have offices around the UK, including bases at Grangemouth and Sellafield.

The news section on their websites boasts that their turnover has increased 60% in the first six months of 2014 (against that of 2013), rising from £55 million to around £90 million.

My contact at the time was Gillian Cordner, who is now Gillian Gomersall and a Director of the business (still running the M&E nationally out of the Washington office)


NRL's website also reveals that they have long standing relationships with many large construction companies, with at least three testimonials from senior Directors of companies involved with the CA.

"Phil, Balfour Beatty Engineering Services

We have enjoyed a very close and open relationship since 1990, and I commend NRL as a truly capable and experienced recruitment company able to provide no-nonsense, quality, value-for-money recruitment."

Could this be Phil McGuire, MD at Balfour Beatty Engineering Services until May 2014? Well his Linkedin profile states that he's based in Newcastle.
"Steve, Shepherd Engineering Services

NRL consistently provide high quality and cost-effective labour solutions, frequently within critical timescales. The honesty and integrity of our relationship, as well as their knowledge and experience of the Mechanical and Electrical Industry, has allowed NRL to remain one of our supply chain partners for 19 years."

Could this be Steve Joyce, Regional Director in the north east since 1992? Of course it is.
"Steve, Amec Nuclear UK Ltd
NRL have been providing the radiography service for AMEC for several years at the Sellafield site. I have found them to be reliable, flexible and professional in carrying out their duties in what is sometimes a very tight timescale. I look forward to carrying on this relationship in the future and would recommend them to other companies. "
SSE Contracting

There is also a glowing reference from SSE Contracting and although they were not in any way connected to the CA (as far as I'm aware), they do have a longstanding dispute with Steve Acheson regarding his sacking at Fiddlers Ferry and failed miserably with their High Court claim in 2009 to have his protest removed from outside their Fiddlers Ferry power station in Warrington.
"Jeff, SSE Contracting

I recently celebrated 20 years of service with SSE Contracting Limited and I believe it appropriate to mark the occasion with a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to a number of our construction industry partners who have supported our operation.
During my period with SSE Contracting, our team has successfully developed the E & I Business into one of the UK’s leading and most respected companies in that sector. Underpinning our success has been the magnificent support we’ve enjoyed from a number of key companies on our supply chain, one of which is our premier agency labour provider, NRL.
When called upon by our team, NRL’s Washington operation has been able to support us with a service that is both professional and consistent with integrity beyond reproach"
Mike Connolly

In May 2010 Mike informed me that he had worked at NRL and my research indicates that this was very briefly i.e. late 2009 to early 2010.

Mike had access to their database system and stated that this held records on certain individuals, including Steve Acheson, Graham Bowker and Tony Jones, clearly stating under the 'Availability' status:  

"Please Contact Gillian Gomersall".

I've attached screenshots of two Facebook exchanges with Mike from January and May 2010.

NRL 1 - JAN 2010 

NRL 2 - MAY 2010 

Mike talks about this system (Adapt) being phased out, but for the layman, this does not mean they would delete all their records. The worker records are the life blood of their business, so these would have been merged into the new system.

NRL now use a web based system from Safe Computing, which has client portals for their clients to log on to exchange information.

Safe Computing boast that 8 of the top 10 UK recruitment businesses use their system.



So we have a Director of a major construction recruitment agency with very long standing business relations with and testimonials from companies known to be associated with the CA.

We have a recruitment manager who has worked at Carillion, Amec and Haden Young (Balfour Beatty Engineering Services) and NRL, stating that NRL held database records of known blacklisted workers and that those records state that NRL staff must contact a Director of the business (Gillian Gomersall) when considering certain individuals for employment/placement with their clients.


Further research reveals that NRL have been the respondent to at least one employment tribunal claim and appeal in conjunction with Balfour Beatty Engineering Services.

More information can be found at:


Indeed, Graham Bowker (mentioned above by Mike Connolly) was the subject of a pre-hearing at the Manchester Employment Tribunal with NRL, Balfour Beatty Engineering Services, Carillion, NG Bailey and Beaver Management Services in March 2011. I do not know how this progressed.

So here we are again, with what appears to be the start of the process again. So I'll ask my question again.

Did blacklisting continue via the agency suppliers to the members of the Consulting Association post March 2009?

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