GMB Welcome Cambridge City Council Barring Firms Being Awarded Public Contracts Till They Compensate Workers They Blacklisted
This has blighted the lives of thousands of families refused work on construction sites and other areas for trade union activity or raising health and safety concerns says GMB.
GMB, the union for construction workers, welcomed the motion carried unanimously on Cambridge City Council on 24th July to stop companies who have engaged in blacklisting from being awarded Council contracts until they purge their guilt. See notes to editors for copy of motion.
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. There are nine Cambridge linked names listed on the blacklist. Two of these are ‘Green activists’.
In October 2013 eight blacklisting companies (Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI PLC) announced that they were setting up The Construction Workers Compensation Scheme (TCWCS) to compensate the victims they blacklisted. Pinsents Masons represent the eight blacklisting companies.
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. 570 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.
Law firm Leigh Day, acting for GMB, begun action in the High Court in London on July 10th seeking compensation for 122 GMB members blacklisted by Carillion and other construction employers. GMB’s claims are joined with a further 449 claims by other unions and parties.
Talks between GMB and lawyers representing construction employers on a compensation scheme for 3,213 blacklisted workers broke down in June over the amount of money being put into the scheme by the employers.
Earlier this month the employers announced that they were unilaterally going ahead with a scheme GMB estimates will cost these employers between £15m and £20m. This is less than 2% of the combined profits of the eight construction firms in the talks.
Sue Birtles, GMB steward and Cambridge City Councillor for Queen Edith's who moved the motion, said "I am glad that the motion was supported by Council and proud that we have taken a stand against backlisting.
This is a practice that has blighted the lives of thousands of families where people have been refused work on construction sites and other areas for the crimes of trade union activity or raising health and safety concerns."
Richard O'Leary, GMB Regional Organiser said "This is a victory for those who have been subject to the despicable practice of Blacklisting.
Cambridge City Council has joined the growing number of Local Authorities who are barring those companies from being awarded lucrative public contracts. The struggle for justice continues and we will continue the fight for all those who were on the list to be fully compensated and the practice of 'blacklisting' is stamped out."
Contact: Richard O Leary 07710 631349 or Steve Sweeny 07703 469403
For people to identify more names on the blacklist call please call Phil Read at GMB on 07840 897997 or email him firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
Copy of motion carried by Cambridge City Council
Cambridge City Council deplores the illegal practice of 'blacklisting' within the construction industry and will ensure that any company known to have been involved in blacklisting practices, and not to have indemnified their victims, will not be invited to tender for contracts until they have:
1. Identified the steps taken to remedy blacklisting for all affected workers
2. Identified the steps taken to ensure blacklisting will not happen again,
3.Given assurances that they do not employ individuals who were named contacts for the Consulting Association.
The Council asks officers to prepare a report for the Leader and Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee on implementation of this policy.