Monday, 28 May 2012

Blacklist Update May 2012

Blacklisting Update May 2012

1. Consulting Association blacklist

The Consulting Association blacklist was exposed in 2009 – 3200 building workers personal details were kept of a secret database – it is mainly union members who have dared to raise concerns about safety issues or unpaid wages. The blacklist was used by major contractors to sack stewards and stop them getting jobs on their projects..............

Originally, Ian Kerr (Chief Executive of the blacklisting operation) got fined a derisory £5,000 – Five Grand for destroying peoples working lives!! The Labour Government introduced the new Blacklisting Regs in April 2010 (the law isn’t retrospective, so none of the blacklisted building workers got any justice from it). And then finally UNITE and UCATT took a load of Employment Tribunals. Virtually every case got thrown out before it got to court or lost because we worked for subbies or agencies rather than the major contractors that did the actual blacklisting. To this day only 3 fellas have actually won their tribunals – well done lads.

The Blacklist Support Group was set up in 2009 to fight our corner. We stood shoulder to shoulder with the sparks in the BESNA dispute – many of the rank and file leaders are already blacklisted. BESNA has put blacklisting centre stage in the industry negotiations. After 3 years of campaigning, things are finally beginning to hot up.

If you want to check whether you are on the blacklist -:  
Contact the ICO on 0303 123 1113 and ask for the "building industry blacklist"

2. Demand a Public Inquiry

As documents continue to be disclosed by the Information Commissioners Office as evidence in Employment Tribunals, it has emerged that the following unions have blacklisted members on the Consulting Association blacklist: UNITE, UCATT, GMB (all construction), RMT (rail industry), OILC (off-shore industry), NUJ (journalists who wrote pro-union articles), UCU (academics were blacklisted for carrying out research into safety), NUT (some teachers were blacklisted for participating in anti-racist demonstrations)

In addition, The Observer recently ran a front page story about police collusion in the blacklist. John McDonnell MP and Michael Meacher MP have both called for a full Public Inquiry into blacklisting. UNITE, UCATT, GMB, NUJ, TSSA all have motions calling for a public inquiry at their conferences whilst the NUT is discussing the issue at the National Executive Committee.

Blacklist Support Group at Fringe meetings at Union Conferences:

UCATT Conf - Scarborough: Steve Acheson & Roy Bentham (Tues & Wed)
GMB Conf - Brighton: Dave Smith (Wed)
UNITE Conf - Brighton: Steve Kelly, Steve Acheson & Dave Smith (Mon & Wed).

3. Parliamentary Select Committee

It may not be a full Public Inquiry but the Scottish Affairs Select Committee in the Westminster parliament has started running an investigation into blacklisting which will run over the next few months. Their remit is fairly tight - it has to involve Scottish firms or Scottish projects etc... Ian Davidson MP is the chair and along with other MPs on the Select Committee will be calling witnesses to give evidence.

On Tuesday 22nd May, the committee interviewed Maria Fyfe (ex-Glasgow MP) who used to speak at early Construction Safety Campaign meetings and played a leading role in parliament on the Economic League. Most of her evidence was historical about what went on in the 1980s.

Blacklisted workers and members of the Blacklist Support Group have been asked to provide evidence. The MPs have also asked the BSG and others to come up with some stories that they can feed to the Daily Record. Scottish blacklisted building workers whose lives have been ruined because of the Consulting Association blacklist. Hopefully UNITE, UCATT, GMB and OILC should definitely have a formal input into the Select Committee investigation.

At the end of the investigation the Committee will produce a Report that is presented to parliament (The present government are unlikely to take any notice but it might feed into the Labour Party manifesto process). Hopefully, this is just the parliamentary breakthrough we've been waiting for.

4. High Court claim
Blacklist Support Group has been working with Guney Clark & Ryan Solicitors to bring a "class action" style claim directly to the High Court for Tort of illegal conspiracy relating to breaches of the Data Protection Act. The lead counsel in the case is Hugh Tomlinson QC - one of the leading human rights & privacy barristers in the UK (He is the main barrister for celebrities in the super-injunction cases and in the News of the World phone-tapping cases).

The High Court claim may be the last chance for the majority of blacklisted workers to get any kind of legal redress or financial compensation. Any blacklisted worker with a Consulting association file who is not part of this claim should contact Liam Dunne of Guney Clark & Ryan Solicitors directly on 020-7275-7788.

We appeal to UCATT, UNITE, GMB and RMT (as the unions with members with blacklist files) to support the High Court claim by circulating the details to their blacklisted members and encouraging them to participate in the claim.

The High Court claims will get lots of publicity once they go public – watch out for stories in the press, cos it might be some time soon.

5. Blacklist Support Group


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