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Blacklisting: Door Opens For Substantial Compensation

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Major Construction Employers Admit Liability In High Court For Defaming 3,213 Blacklisted Construction Workers

Admission is a firm basis to make sure members are given the very substantial compensation they deserve and that the true nature of secretive blacklisting is known says GMB.

Major employers admitted liability for defaming construction workers in High Court hearing in London on Wednesday 7th October dealing with claims for compensation for 122 GMB members blacklisted by Carillion and other construction employers.

The claims were served by law firm Leigh Day for GMB members on 27th November 2013. GMB’s claims were joined with a further 449 claims by other unions and parties at a High Court Hearing in July 2014. There was a directions hearing on all 571 cases on 17th December 2014, 13th February, 14th May and 14 July 2015. The employers have to disclose information to claimants by end October 2016 pending the full trial in 2016. See notes to editors for copies of previous GMB press releases on this.

Blacklisting came to light when in 2009 the ICO seized a Consulting Association database of 3,213 construction workers and environmental activists used by 44 companies to vet new recruits and keep out of employment trade union and health and safety activists.

Talks between GMB and construction employers (Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI PLC) on a compensation scheme for 3,213 blacklisted workers broke down in June 2014 over the amount of money being put into the scheme by the employers. Employers unilaterally launched a cut price scheme GMB estimates will cost less than 2% of the combined profits of the eight construction firms.

So far 1,724 out of the 3,213 on the list know they are on blacklist. 467 were identified by themselves on by their unions. 571 cases are covered by claims in the High Court. ICO contacted direct a further 1,257 and of these 776 has now been sent a copy of their files.  That leaves 1,489 still to trace. See notes to editors for details of where those blacklisted come from.

GMB organized  “Crocodile Tears” protests have been held at 16 locations across the UK to shame 63 construction industry managers named as blacklisters who have yet to come clean and apologise for their actions. See notes to editors for the full list if these managers and where they worked.                                                                                    

Maria Ludkin, GMB National Officer for Legal and Corporate Affairs, said "The admissions of liability for defamation by major construction including Carillion and Sir Robert Mc Alpine applies to all cases including those for GMB members. It is a testament to the aggressive legal strategy GMB has pursued.

The fact that the companies have acknowledged the distress and anxiety caused to workers and their families now gives us a firm basis to make sure members are given the very substantial compensation they deserve, and that the true nature of the secretive Consulting Association is known.

Even though it has taken years of fighting in the High Court, the companies have now acknowledged that they infringed workers’ rights to confidentiality, privacy, reputation and data protection, which is an important battle to have won.

The next fight is to ensure the companies are properly held accountable so that this cannot happen again.”

End

Contact Justin Bowden on 07710 631351 or Maria Ludkin 07956 632 657 or GMB press office at 07921 289880 or 07974 251 823

For information on High Court action contact Leigh Day: David Standard 07540 332717 or Michael Newman 0795 223 9358 or Chris Benson on 07795425649.

Contact Dave Smith 07882 579 452 re Blacklist Support Group

Notes to editors

Copy of previous GMB press releases

Press release dated 28 July 2015

HIGH COURT ORDERS CONSTRUCTION FIRMS TO SEARCH FOR DOCUMENTS ON SECRETIVE BLACKLISTING ACTIVITIES INSIDE THE COMPANIES

Key individuals, who up to now have hidden inside the construction firms, will have to explain in detail how the blacklist was serviced and operated by them says GMB

Following a hearing in the High Court on 16 July 2015, the application for disclosure of documents on behalf of blacklisted workers, including 126 GMB members, was successful. See notes to editors for copy of GMB press release on the hearing in the High Court.

The claims for compensation were served by law firm Leigh Day for GMB members on 27th November 2013. GMB’s claims were joined with a further 449 claims by other unions and parties at a High Court Hearing in July 2014. There was a directions hearing on all 571 cases beginning on 17th December 2014, 13th February, 14th May and 14 July 2015.

Blacklisting came to light when in 2009 the ICO seized a Consulting Association database of 3,213 construction workers and environmental activists used by 44 companies to vet new recruits and keep out of employment trade union and health and safety activists.

In the High Court the majority of the companies argued that the disclosure exercise sought by the claimants would cost millions of pounds, and was impractical. Importantly, these companies also wanted to limit the number of people whose email accounts would be searched, and not to search other sources of electronic documents, such as desktop computers, laptops and mobile phones.

The court (the Honourable Mr Justice Supperstone and Master Leslie) rejected these arguments, saying they were “unimpressed” by the evidence the companies put forward.

The court decided five key points in the claimants’ favour:

searches would include desktop and laptop computers, and not just emails;

searches should include mobile phones and blackberrys for the period of time in 2009 around the ICO raid of the Consulting Association;

documents should be individually reviewed (for certain individuals and time periods), rather than just using electronic “key word” searches; and,

searches should be conducted for PAs and assistants to the Chairmen of the Consulting Association (16 in total), and not just the 8 Chairman themselves.

26 key named individuals will have to supply detailed statements explaining their involvement with Consulting Association.

The companies are to tell the blacklisted workers about the results of these searches by 30 October 2015, in preparation for the trial of the lead cases in May 2016.

The companies covered by the disclosure ruling are as follows:

Carillion

Balfour Beatty

Costain

Kier

Laing O’Rourke

Skanska

Sir Robert McAlpine

Vinci

Amec

BAM

Cleveland Bridge

Lend Lease

Michael Newman, solicitor at Leigh Day, said “Blacklisting companies need to know that they cannot hide behind their hundreds of thousands of emails and archiving boxes, claiming that they cannot perform detailed searches about their involvement in the Consulting Association.

It is farcical to suggest that searching electronic documents using terms such as “blacklisting” was going to be very productive, for an organisation such as the Consulting Association that thrived on secrecy and clandestine communications.

The court’s order means that the claimants will now have the results of all these searches by 30th October in good time for the trial in 2016”.

Maria Ludkin, GMB National Officer for legal and corporate affairs, said “At last the court has given a definitive ruling that key individuals, who up to now have hidden inside the construction companies, will have to explain in detail how the blacklist was serviced and operated by them. They will have to provide detailed search evidence showing how blacklisting information was used inside the companies either when it was submitted to or obtained from the Consulting Association.

Further, the order for extensive searches for communications around the time of the ICO raid will at last shine a light on the level of conspiracy between the defendant companies as they tried to cover up their unlawful activities.”

End

Copy of GMB press release dated 14th July 2015

GMB HEARING IN HIGH COURT IN LONDON ON 14 JULY TO SECURE COMPENSATION FOR 122 GMB MEMBERS BLACKLISTED BY CONSTRUCTION FIRMS

Court has to resolve resistance by companies for discovery of documents on the grounds that union requests will place onerous burdens on them to comply says GMB

On Tuesday 14th July there is a further hearing in the High Court in London seeking compensation for 122 GMB members blacklisted by Carillion and other construction employers.

 The claims were served by law firm Leigh Day for GMB members on 27th November 2013. GMB’s claims were joined with a further 449 claims by other unions and parties at a High Court Hearing in July 2014. There was a directions hearing on all 571 cases on 17th December 2014, 13th February and 14th May 2015.

Blacklisting came to light when in 2009 the ICO seized a Consulting Association database of 3,213 construction workers and environmental activists used by 44 companies to vet new recruits and keep out of employment trade union and health and safety activists.

Talks between GMB and construction employers (Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI PLC) on a compensation scheme for 3,213 blacklisted workers broke down in June 2014 over the amount of money being put into the scheme by the employers. Employers unilaterally launched a cut price scheme GMB estimates will cost less than 2% of the combined profits of the eight construction firms.

So far 1,724 out of the 3,213 on the list know they are on blacklist. 467 were identified by themselves on by their unions. 571 cases are covered by claims in the High Court. ICO contacted direct a further 1,257 and of these 776 has now been sent a copy of their files.  That leaves 1,489 still to trace. See notes to editors for details of where those blacklisted come from.

GMB organized  “Crocodile Tears” protests have been held at 16 locations across the UK to shame 63 construction industry managers named as blacklisters who have yet to come clean and apologise for their actions. A third leg in the protest tour is being planned for the autumn. See notes to editors for the full list if these managers and where they worked.

Justin Bowden, GMB National Officer, said "'The companies continue to resist our most reasonable requests for discovery of documents on the grounds that our requests will place onerous burdens on the companies to comply.

We look forward to the High Court Judge, Honourable Mr Justice Supperstone finally resolving this matter. We have no doubt that he will give due consideration to the onerous burden placed on the claimants due to decades of blacklisting."

Michael Newman, solicitor for Leigh Day, said “After years of litigation, blacklisted workers get their third hearing today (14th July) in front of a High Court Judge, the Honourable Mr Justice Supperstone.

The companies have provided some limited documents about their secret blacklisting operation, but getting full disclosure will be another important milestone in this case.”

End

Notes to Editors

1 Managers named as blacklisters- to be visited as part of Crocodile Tears Tour 2014/15. (Most initial are from the files of those blacklisted.)

Michael Aird (MA) - Balfour Kilpatrick - Glasgow

Kathy Almansoor (KA) - Kier Group – Sandy, Bedfordshire

Dave Aspinall (DA) - Carillion / Crown House - Wolverhampton

Alan Audley (AA) – Vinci - Watford

John Ball (JB) - Carillion / Crown House - Wolverhampton

Ron Barron (RB) - CB & I – Tonbridge, Kent

Valerie Bennison (VB) – Whessoe - Darlington

Ernie Boswell (EB) - Kier Group – Sandy, Bedfordshire

Richard Bull (RB) - HBG Construction (BAM) – Colindale, London

Iain Coates (IC) – Emcor – Kew Bridge, Twickenham

David Cochrane (DC) - Sir Robert McAlpine – Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire

Ann Cowrie (AC) - Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering - Edinburgh

Tony Crowther – AMEC – Knutsford, Cheshire

John Dangerfield (JD) - Balfour Beatty Scottish & Southern - Basingstoke, Hampshire

Lynn Day (LD) - Cleveland Bridge UK – Darlington

John Dickinson (JD) – Skanska – Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire

Frank Duggan (FD) - Carillion / Crown House - Wolverhampton

John Edwards (JE) - Carillion / Crown House - Wolverhampton

Kevin Gorman (KG) - Carillion / Crown House - Solihull

Elaine Gallagher (EG) - Balfour Kilpatrick - Glasgow

Gerry Harvey (GH) - Balfour Kilpatrick - Glasgow

Roy Hay (RH) – Tarmac - Solihull

David Hillman - Sir Robert McAlpine – Birmingham

Keith Horner (KH) - Ballast Wiltshire

Dianne Hughes (DH) – Tarmac / Crown House  - Solihull

Geoff Hughes (GH) – Costain – Maidenhead, Berkshire

Greg Ingleton (GI) – Emcor – Kew Bridge, Twickenham

Prue Jackson (PJ) - Haden Young - Watford

Vince James (VJ) - Balfour Beatty Scottish & Southern – Basingstoke, Hampshire

Armar Johnston (AJ) - Balfour Kilpatrick – Livingstone

Liz Keates (LK) - Carillion / Crown House - Wolverhampton

Sheila Knight (SK) – Emcor – Kew Bridge, Twickenham

Ian Leake (IL) - Taylor Woodrow, Watford

Tim Llewellyn (TL) - Walter Llewellyn & Sons Ltd, Eastbourne, East Sussex

Alf Lucas (AL) – Mowlem

Bridget May (BM) – Nuttall – Camberley, Surrey

Cullum McAlpine - Sir Robert McAlpine – Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire

Paul McCreath (PM) - HBG Construction (BAM) – Colindale, London

Steve McGuire (SM) - Morgan Est plc – Warrington

John Morrison (JM) - Morrison Construction - Edinburgh

Arnold Nestler (AN) - AMEC – Knutsford, Cheshire

Lisa O’Mahoney (LOM) - Laing O’Rourke – Dartford, Kent

Danny O’Sullivan (DOS) - Kier Group – Sandy, Bedfordshire

Sandy Palmer (SP) - Carillion / Crown House - Wolverhampton

Harry Pooley (HP) - Rosser & Russell - Watford

Derek Price – Morgan Ashurst – Stratford upon Avon

Stephen Quant (SQ) – Skanska – Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire

Paul Raby (PR) - Balfour Kilpatrick - Glasgow

Murray Reid (MR) - NG Bailey – Ilkley, West Yorkshire

Roger Robinson (RR) - Carillion / Crown House - Wolverhampton

Sylvia Smith (SS) - Laing O’Rourke – Dartford, Kent

Trevor Spice (TS) – Costain – Maidenhead, Berkshire

Lisa Stevenson (LS) - Shepherd Engineering Services - York

John Stoddart (JS) - SIAS Building Services - Keighley

Alan Swift – Crown House Technologies - Manchester

Pat Swift (PS) - BAM Nuttall - Guildford

Alan Thorniley (AT) – Vinci - Watford

Brian Tock (BT) - Carillion / Crown House - Solihull

Ken Ward (KW) – Costain – Maidenhead, Berkshire

Trevor Watchman (TW) - Balfour Beatty Major Projects – Redhill, Surrey

Steve Wigmore – Crown House Technologies - Solihull

Allison Wilkins – Skanska – Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire

Carolyn Williams (CW) - Haden Young - Watford

 

 

2 Where blacklisted workers came from.

Blacklisted workers – number in each area

 

 

 

 

Location

Number on the blacklist

 

Location

Number on the blacklist

 

 

Aberdeen City

14

 

Kent

95

Aberdeenshire

54

 

Kingston upon Hull

62

Anglesey

3

 

Lancashire

60

Angus

5

 

Leeds

53

Argyll & Bute

7

 

Leicestershire

5

Bath and North East Somerset

1

 

Lincolnshire

13

Bedfordshire

4

 

Manchester

183

Berkshire

2

 

Merseyside

173

Birmingham

69

 

Midlothian

3

Bristol

25

 

Monmouthshire

9

Buckinghamshire

20

 

Norfolk

7

Cambridgeshire

12

 

North Ayrshire

67

Cardiff

10

 

North Lanarkshire

22

Ceredigion

9

 

North Yorkshire

12

Cheshire

64

 

Northamptonshire

14

City of London

454

 

Northern Ireland

1

Clackmannanshire

3

 

Northumberland

7

Cornwall & Isles of Scilly

3

 

Nottinghamshire

12

Cumbria

27

 

Orkney Islands

1

Denbighshire

34

 

Oxfordshire

8

Derbyshire

16

 

Perth & Kinross

2

Devon

19

 

Powys

2

Dorset

8

 

Redcar and Cleveland

43

Dumfries & Galloway

6

 

Renfrewshire

15

Dundee City

21

 

Rhondda Cynon Taf

2

Durham

11

 

Rhondda, Cynon, Taff

3

East Ayrshire

18

 

Rotherham

56

East Lothian

1

 

Shropshire

2

East Riding of Yorkshire

16

 

Somerset

5

East Sussex

8

 

South Lanarkshire

16

Edinburgh, City of

52

 

Southern Ireland

1

Essex

57

 

Staffordshire

16

Falkirk

35

 

Stirling

7

Fife

24

 

Suffolk

9

Glasgow City

140

 

Surrey

32

Gloucestershire

32

 

Swansea

15

Gwynedd

12

 

Tyne & Wear

69

Hampshire

50

 

Warwickshire

1

Hereford & Worcester

3

 

West Dunbartonshire

8

Hertfordshire

14

 

West Lothian

12

Highland

15

 

West Sussex

11

Inverclyde

26

 

Wiltshire

5

Isle of Wight

1

 

Wokingham

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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