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Carillion Protest At Guardian Awards

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

GMB Protest On Thursday 16 May At London Ceremony As Blacklister Carillion Is Shortlisted For A Sustainable Business Award

If the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards had a category that rewards hypocrisy Carillion would be on for a clean sweep of the prizes as the dispute at Swindon is unresolved and there is no settlement on blacklisting

GMB members, in dispute with Carillion at Great Western PFI Hospital in Swindon since December 2011, will attend a demonstration at an Awards ceremony in London on Thursday16th May as Carillion are shortlisted for a Sustainable Business Award. See attached list of judges for these awards.

Carillion, who has admitted blacklisting construction workers, is shortlisted in the Society category for the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards 2013.

150 GMB members employed by Carillion at Swindon have taken 21 days of strike action over the persistent failure of the Carillion management to deal with evidence of bribery and corruption on the contract which was covered up for some years. The matter is now before an Employment Tribunal following the failure of talks at ACAS to resolve the dispute. See Note 1 below for progress of the dispute up to 15th May 2012 and copy of article from Guardian on the dispute.

The details of the protest demonstration at the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards ceremony are as follows:

From 6.15pm

Thursday 16th May.

Outside RIBA

66 Portland Place
London
W1B 1AD

The GMB protesters from Swindon will have flags and banners. They will be joined by workers who have been blacklisted.

Blacklisting came to light when in 2009 the Information Commissioners Office (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. Over 60% of those on the blacklist were aged between 30 and 50 in the mid1990s. They were mainly active trade union lay leaders on construction sites.

From documentary evidence seen by GMB the ICO confirmed that 224 construction workers from around the UK were victims of blacklisting by Carillion.  Blacklisting by Carillion was not something isolated or rare. GMB estimates that in one quarter Carillion checked 2,776 names with the Consulting Association and in the period from October 1999 to April 2004 it estimates that Carillion checked at least 14,724 names. This makes it one of the bigger users.

The Scottish Affairs Committee Inquiry into blacklisting the Carillion managers who dealt with blacklisting were named as follows: Frank Duggan, group personnel director for Carillion; Kevin Gorman, former human resources manager for Carillion’s Crown House division; Liz Keates, a current head of human resources at Carillion; Sandy Palmer and Dave Aspinall from NCS (Carillion’s in-house employment agency); John Ball, head of human resources at Carillion; Roger Robinson and Brian Tock, two managing directors of Crown House. John Edwards from Carillion is identified as attending Consulting Association meetings in 2008. John Blake a current senior manager for Carillion admitted collating information that appeared on a blacklist file and sending it to John Ball at Carillion Head Office whilst giving evidence during the Smith v Carillion Employment Tribunal in January 2012.

Justin Bowden, GMB National Officer, said “If the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards had a category that rewards hypocrisy Carillion would be on for a clean sweep of the prizes as the dispute at Swindon is unresolved and there is no settlement on blacklisting.

Carillion has got to come to terms with what their managers have done to workers in Swindon and to the workers they blacklisted. They have to accept what they did was wrong and then take steps to put it right.

Until this happens there will be no end to this dispute.

It beggars belief that Carillion are short-listed in The Guardian Sustainable Business Awards when they were the third highest user of The Consulting Association which blacklisted 3,213 environmental and green activists and construction workers.

Carillion have not paid a single penny in compensation to those blacklisted and coupled with their record of shakedowns, discrimination, bullying and cover-up at Swindon Hospital.”

End

Contact: Carolle Vallelly on 07912 181476  Paul Maloney, GMB Regional Secretary on 07801 343839 or Justin Bowden, GMB National Officer on 07710 631351 or Maria Ludkin GMB National Officer for Legal and Corporate Affairs on 07956 632 657 or GMB Press Office: Steve Pryle on 07921 289880 or Rose Conroy on 07974 251823.

Notes to Editors:
Progress of GMB dispute with Carillion in Swindon from December 2011 up to May 2013.

The GMB members work as porters and housekeepers in catering and cleaning and other support roles at the Swindon PFI hospital. The industrial dispute only involve GMB members who work for Carillion. It does not involve the more than 200 GMB members who work for the NHS Trust or the ambulance service at the Great Western Hospital.

GMB members originally voted overwhelmingly in December 2011 for strike action in protest against bullying and discrimination at the hospital. GMB members demanded that Carillion management act to stop the culture of bullying on the contract and for an end to discrimination in the application of pay and conditions on the contract.

GMB submitted a formal complaint by 109 staff over allegations of bullying in December 2011. During the early months of 2012 90 staff members gave evidence of terrible bullying.
In total GMB members have taken 21 days of strike action so far. They took part in 24 hour stoppages on 14th, 21st and 23rd Feb over bullying, harassment and discrimination by local Carillion management. These were followed by 3 further days of strike action on 27th, 28th and 29th February. There were five days of strike action between 8th & 12th March. A further seven days strike took place between March 17th and March 23rd. There was a march and rally in Swindon on March 17th. The 19th day of strike action took place on May 16th. There was also a public meeting in Swindon on that date. The 20th day of strike action was on June 11th when the strikers visited GMB Congress in Brighton. These members took part in a further one day stoppage on Sunday 15th July. This was the twenty first day of strike action by these workers who took part in the march and rally at Tolpuddle that day.
In June 2012 these GMB members learned that a second investigation by Carillion into complaints by members found evidence of bribery and shakedowns on the contract. Written reports of the second investigation into GMB members’ grievances was circulated to members also admitted to racism, bullying and intimidation.

Carillion did not invite GMB to discuss the outcome of the second investigation. Instead the company issued disciplinary proceedings against 10 GMB members who were the whistle blowers and the victims of the bullying and ‘gold for employment rights’. These members have now been found guilty of being “shaken down”.  GMB has lodged appeals against these guilty verdicts. The appeals were dismissed in November 2012.

The manager at the heart of the bullying allegations left Carillion in February 2012. At talks with GMB in February 2012 Carillion said that they had reluctantly accepted the resignation of the manager at the centre of the dispute but that they were not prepared to uphold any of the grievances of the staff. After the first Carillion investigation failed to uphold complaints GMB filed almost 100 discrimination claims on behalf of the members at the Employment Tribunal. These members are represented by Bindmans, the UK’s leading human rights legal firm. Talks at ACAS to resolve the dispute collapsed on 10th October the claims now go to an Employment Tribunal for a full hearing.

In Feb 2012 GMB was given assurances by RMT and ASLEF, whose member’s London Transport pension fund is a major shareholder in Semperian PPP Investment Partners, the owners of the 30 year PFI contract at Great Western Hospital in Swindon, that they would intervene in the dispute with Carillion staff at the hospital. This has since happened.

GMB wrote to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee asking for an investigation into the siphoning off of NHS cash into tax free scams for foreign investors using Channel Islands. This is after it came to light that the holding company of Semperian that owns 35 PFI contracts to run NHS hospitals in the UK, including that in Swindon, is based in Jersey for the express purpose to enable overseas investors to avoid tax on dividend income arising from running these NHS facilities. The ultimate holding company is Jersey registered Semperian PPP Investment Partners Holdings Ltd. GMB is calling on the chancellor to stop this this tax avoidance.

In March 2012 Dave Smith, a trade unionist who was blacklisted by his employer Carillion advised GMB about the activities of a Carillion HR manager involved with the Swindon dispute in his own blacklisting. Dave Smith said that a London Employment Tribunal in January was presented with evidence that Liz Keates the Carillion HR Director involved in the dispute at Swindon managed Carillion’s relationship with the Consulting Association. This was the body that was responsible for the ‘blacklisting’ 3,200 construction workers and excluding them from employment because of their trade union activities. In June GMB published a report on blacklisting by Carillion.

The GMB report“BLACKLISTING - illegal corporate bullying endemic, systemic and deep-rooted in Carillion and other companies” is on the GMB website at http://www.gmb.org.uk/. Arising from this report GMB is preparing separate legal action against Carillion for blacklisting. GMB has since given evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee on blacklisting.

From documentary evidence seen by GMB the ICO confirmed that 224 construction workers from around the UK were victims of blacklisting by Carillion.  Blacklisting by Carillion was not something isolated or rare. GMB estimates that in one quarter Carillion checked 2,776 names with the Consulting Association and in the period from October 1999 to April 2004 it estimates that Carillion checked at least 14,724 names. This makes it one of the bigger users.

There is evidence from the ICO that Carillion involvement with the Consulting Association blacklist included parts of their organization such as Crown House, Schal International, SkyBlue Employment Agency, Tarmac and John Mowlem as well as Carillion itself.

Carrillion managers involved with blacklisting named at the Scottish Affairs Committee are Frank Duggan, group personnel director for Carillion; Kevin Gorman, former human resources manager for Carillion’s Crown House division; Liz Keates, a current head of human resources at Carillion; Sandy Palmer and Dave Aspinall from NCS (Carillion’s in-house employment agency); John Ball, head of human resources at Carillion; Roger Robinson and Brian Tock, two managing directors of Crown House. John Edwards from Carillion is identified as attending Consulting Association meetings in 2008. John Blake a current senior manager for Carillion admitted collating information that appeared on a blacklist file and sending it to John Ball at Carillion Head Office whilst giving evidence during the Smith v Carillion Employment Tribunal in January 2012.

GMB wrote to employment agencies including SkyBlue Solutions to make them aware that Regulation 7 of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations 2003 prohibits an employment business (agency) from providing temporary workers, to replace workers who were taking part in an official strike. An employment business supplying workers in these circumstances, will be committing a criminal offence and the end user/employer/client could be found to be aiding and abetting that offence.

The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EASI) is the body responsible for enforcing the regulations.

GMB held protest demonstrations on Thursday 22nd March in both Swindon and Bath using a Wild West stagecoach to show that Sky Blue Solutions, a Bath employment agency, was running a ‘coach and horses’ through the law that forbids employment agencies to supply staff during trade disputes and should be punished for breaking the law.

GMB has condemned EASI failure to properly investigate the alleged strike breaking by Sky Blue Solutions. Breaches of the regulations result in a fine of £5,000 per worker per day supplied to do the work of the strikers. EASI has a dreadful track record on this.

GMB also organised a public meeting in the House of Commons on 10th July 2012 with MPs and other invited guests to assess how best to deal with the Carillion culture of corporate bullying and racism.

On 10th October talks at ACAS to resolve the dispute at Swindon failed and GMB issued the following statement:

Maria Ludkin, GMB National Officer for legal and corporate affairs, said “Carillion missed a golden opportunity to rectify the wrongs done by managers on their Swindon PFI contract. They chose instead to once again try to cover up the disgraceful events at Swindon.

This is why talks between GMB and Carillion at ACAS today, to try to resolve the long running dispute at Swindon Hospital, have collapsed. Despite Carillion requesting the talks, they refused to acknowledge the continued discrimination and victimisation of employees, which has so far resulted in fifty seven cases filed against Carillion in the employment tribunal. Carillion also tried to propose that the cases should be assessed through a confidential process outside of the legal system, in order to continue the on-going cover up.

 We came to ACAS ready to find a resolution to this dispute which would address our member’s cases and concerns. Unfortunately Carillion did not want to be part of the clean-up, and remain committed to the cover up.

We will now pursue our cases through the courts where we are extremely confident of a just resolution.

The history of Carillion, and the companies which came together to make it up, is riven with a culture of corporate bullying that is endemic, systemic and deeply rooted. Until those running Carillion come to terms with the legacy exposed by GMB, and deal with it head on, this culture will persist no matter how much those at the top try to convince themselves and the outside world otherwise.

The victims of this culture at Swindon must have the union representation of their choice as must GMB members at NHS facilities in Liverpool and Bristol and other sites Carillion is seeking to run. Carillion must apologise to and compensate all 224 workers the Carillion group blacklisted. Until all this happens there will be no end to this dispute”

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