Page last updated at 09:18 GMT, Friday, 12 March 2010

The hidden price of prejudice

By Conor Spackman
BBC News

Nenad Zubin
Nenad Zubin was the victim of a "culture of fear"

A Northern Ireland company which has been involved in several 2012 Olympics construction projects could miss out on similar work because of its role in a racist bullying case.

Mallusk-based Brett Martin has supplied its products to the main athletics stadium and to the arena to be used for basketball.

However, it may lose out on future work because of strict Olympic protocols on equality and diversity.

It has emerged that the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) - the body responsible for delivering infrastructure for the Games - is bound to deal only with companies which embrace its equality strategies.

Last week, a Croatian man, Nenad Zubin, was awarded more than £50,000 by an industrial tribunal which said Brett Martin had encouraged a "climate of fear" and was guilty of "reprehensible, shocking behaviour" at its Mallusk factory.

Rape

The tribunal's award - believed to be the biggest ever in Northern Ireland - came after hearings which revealed how Mr Zubin had endured years of bullying and racist abuse at Brett Martin.

The ODA is committed to ensuring that its suppliers adhere to all legislation on equality and discrimination
Olympic Delivery Authority

One employee told Mr Zubin that "the Serbs were just right to rape your women and children".

Last year, ODA bosses visited the same factory where Mr Zubin was subjected to his ordeal. Brett Martin said afterwards that it was delighted to be so closely involved in the delivery of venues for 2012.

Brett Martin is not currently supplying the ODA or one of its contractors.

However, the ODA's own protocol may prevent it from dealing with the company in future.

Its procurement policy states that it promotes equality and inclusion through its supply chain and will only contract with companies with the same strategies.

The policy goes on to state: "The ODA is committed to ensuring that its suppliers adhere to all legislation on equality and discrimination, and will operate equality monitoring systems to this end."

Crackdown

That policy derives from a wider government crackdown on the public sector dealing with companies with poor track records on anti-discrimination.

A spokesperson for the Equality and Human Rights Commission said that public bodies are expected to have a clause in their contracts preventing any company found guilty of breaching discrimination laws from winning a tender.

Olympic Stadium
Brett Martin has supplied materials for the 2012 stadium

The spokesperson continued: "This means that companies such as Brett Martin would face serious difficulties in successfully tendering for public authority work in the future."

The law surrounding procurement is different in Northern Ireland from England and Wales, but public bodies in both jurisdictions are expected to give contracts only to companies which have demonstrated high standards of behaviour.

Penalty

Guidelines on the Northern Ireland legislation specifically state that bidders can be disqualified "as a penalty for previous wrongdoing" - for example "if they have failed to comply with anti-discrimination or equality requirements".

The rules in England and Wales state that in order for a company to prevent isolation, it has to demonstrate the steps it is taking to rectify its failings.

In a statement Brett Martin said that it was now conducting a review of its policies and would reiterate them to its employees.

The statement continued: "We are absolutely committed to taking a no tolerance approach to any discriminatory behaviour now and into the future."



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