GMB Hail Unanimous Vote At Tower Hamlets Council To Deny Contracts To Companies Until They Compensate Workers They Blacklisted
Councillors at Labour Party Conference next week should visit the former Carillion stand and attend the fringe meeting to get advice on how to run the blacklisters out of town says GMB
GMB, the union for construction workers, hailed the unanimous vote by councillors last night (18th Sept) at Tower Hamlets Council to deny contracts to the 44 construction employers who blacklisted 3,213 workers and kept them out of employment until they own up, clean up and pay up. See notes to editors 1 for copy of press release from the office of the Mayor of Tower Hamlets.
This pledge follows last week’s announcement by the Welsh Government of a similar position. In addition a further 29 public bodies have so far agreed to seek to deny contracts to councils until they purge their guilt. See notes to editors 2 for the details.
Yesterday (18th September) it was announced that the Labour Party NEC had kicked Carillion out of the exhibition area at next week’s Labour Party Conference over the company’s failure to compensate the workers they or their predecessor companies blacklisted. See notes to editors 3 for GMB press release on this announcement and text of Welsh Government press release.
GMB is organizing a fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference on “Blacklisting the Blacklisters - Using ethical procurement in national and local government and other public bodies to secure justice for the 3,213 victims of blacklisting by construction companies”. The details are as follows:
12:45pm Monday, 23 September 2013
Hilton Metropole Hotel
Brighton BN1 2FU
Chair: Shami Chakrabarti, Liberty's Director, Speakers Ian Davidson MP Chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee, Michael Newman, Leigh Day Solicitors, Dave Smith Blacklist Support Group and Justin Bowden GMB National Officer.
GMB has now got the space that was allocated to Carillion and it will be used to ask Labour Councillors from across the UK to follow the lead of the Welsh Government, and Tower Hamlets to exclude Carillion and the other blacklisters from public contracts.
Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said "GMB is delighted that councillors in Tower Hamlets unanimously voted last night to be the first council in Britain to run the blacklisters right out of town. Another 30 are well on the way to doing so.
Where Tower Hamlets councillors have led, others will now surely follow and those companies guilty of blacklisting workers will get no more of the public contracts they crave until they own up, clean up and pay up for what they did to their 3,213 victims.
Carillion in response to being kicked out from the Labour Party Conference repeats that they “proactively stopped” blacklisting in 2004. GMB would like know when and how they removed the 137 names of construction workers that Sir Robert McAlpine says Carillion supplied to the blacklist which was in operation until 2009 when it was shut down.
GMB wants all Labour Councillors to do what Tower Hamlets council and the Welsh Government has done.
We want those attending the Labour Party Conference next week to visit the former Carillion stand in Brighton and attend our fringe meeting to get advice on how to run the blacklisters out of their towns and cities."
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
1 Press Release From the Office of the Mayor of Tower Hamlets 18 September 2013
GMB General Secretary, Paul Kenny, praises Independent Mayor for anti-blacklisting pledge
“Where Mayor Rahman has led, others will surely follow”
Mayor Lutfur Rahman today announced that Tower Hamlets will be the first Local Authority in the UK to pledge not to award contracts to any company found guilty of blacklisting workers.
Mayor Lutfur Rahman said:
“Tower Hamlets was the first Council to introduce the London Living Wage in 2009 and we take the welfare and well-being of working people very seriously. I am very grateful to the GMB and other unions including Unite the Union and UCATT for bringing the issue of blacklisting to the nation’s attention and I am proud to say that not only does Tower Hamlets not have any contracts with the companies accused of this practice, but that on my watch it never will.”
The practice of blacklisting workers was brought to prominence by the GMB who published a list of companies using a network of private investigators to compile databases of workers
perceived as union activists or agitators. Companies then used the clandestine database to run illegal background checks and deny work to those perceived as union activists or agitators.
Commenting on Mayor Rahman's pledge, GMB General Secretary Paul Kenny said:
"The GMB is delighted that Tower Hamlets is the first council in Britain to run the blacklisters right out of town. Where Mayor Rahman has led, others will now surely follow and those companies guilty of blacklisting workers will get no more of the public contracts they crave until they own up, clean up and pay up for what they did to their 3,213 victims."
Notes to Editors
The Mayor's pledge on blacklisting appears below;
Blacklisting is an unlawful practice, which unscrupulous employers use to avoid having trade unionists in the workforce.
Trade unionists have a vital role in any workforce for the very reason that blacklisting employers seek to exclude them: they stand up for workers’ rights. As a result of blacklisting, workers cannot find employment and their families suffer a terrible injustice.
We have trade unionists to thank for the 35 hour week, lunch breaks, paid sick leave and holiday pay among other conditions that we take for granted.
The council values the rights of its employees, and is against any move to curb workers’ representation.
The GMB, Unite the Union and UCATT have undertaken extremely important work in highlighting this issue on the national stage, and compiling a comprehensive list of companies that employ this disgraceful practice.
I am pleased that, having cross-referenced this list with our own list of contractors and suppliers, I can say that the council has no relationship with any of them.
And I am pleased to follow the Welsh Assembly’s lead in being the first local authority nationwide to pledge to take action against blacklisting. Under no circumstances is it acceptable for any business in receipt of our procurement expenditure to use blacklists.
For information about this press release contact Numan Hussain, Political Advisor to the Mayor, on 07508 352 023 or email email@example.com
2 Public bodies that have taken action on blacklisting – as known to GMB at early September 2013.
Tower Hamlets, motion 12.6 p 8
Newham, number 17, motion 1
Medway Labour will table a motion at the Full Council meeting on 25th April
Torfaen 11th December
St. Helens Council 16th January
Email from JB 24/4/13 re Streatham CLP
Motion put forward
Sheffield – item 20
Barking & Dagenham
Motion put to Labour Group with aim of taking it further. (email 19th April 2013)
Plymouth – motion put to council on 22 April
Dumfries and Galloway
West Dunbartonshire – motion c
Northern Ireland Assembly
Bristol City Council 10th September
3 GMB release on Carillion and Welsh Government release.
GMB WELCOME NEC DECISION TO KICK CARILLION OUT OF LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE UNTIL THEY OWN UP, CLEAN UP AND PAY UP ON BLACKLISTING
Left to their own devices the employers spied and they lied and what the companies say and what the companies do are two different things says GMB
GMB welcomed the decision of the Labour Party NEC to exclude Carillion from the exhibition space at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton next week as a major boost the GMB’s campaign to blacklist the blacklisters from public contracts till they own up, clean up and pay up.
GMB has now got the space that was allocated to Carillion and it will be used to ask Labour Councillors from across the UK to follow the lead of the Welsh Government exclude Carillion and the other blacklisters from public contracts until the compensate the 3,213 workers they excluded from employment because they were trade union and health and safety representatives. See notes to editors for text of press release from Welsh Government.
GMB lawyers in June 2013 lodged claims in the High Court in London seeking compensation for 70 GMB members blacklisted by Carillion and other construction employers.
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.
In a separate development there was also a lunchtime protest by GMB members employed by Carillion at the gate of Great Western Hospital in Swindon on Wednesday 18th September in a dispute over job losses and cuts in pay arising from changes to shift and rota arrangements without consultation.
In 2012 there were 21 days of strike action by these Swindon workers in protest against bullying and discrimination by Carillion 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.
That Swindon dispute is still on-going as Carillion refused to acknowledge the continued discrimination and victimisation of employees. This has so far resulted in fifty seven cases filed against Carillion in the employment tribunal. GMB are extremely confident of a just resolution through litigation.
Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said, "The Labour Party must be applauded for kicking Carillion out of the exhibition hall at its Conference. Clearly they are as sick as the rest of the Labour Movement by Carillion and their blacklisting mates.
Hot on the heels of last week's decision by the Welsh Assembly to blacklist the blacklisters from public contracts in Wales, the Labour Party NEC has shunned Carillion from their Conference.
The exhibition space will be used to ask Labour Councillors from across the UK to follow the lead of the Welsh Government to close the net on the blacklisters like Carillion until they own up, clean up and pay up.
Left to their own devices the employers spied and they lied. What the companies say and what the companies do are two different things.
For any worker to be represented by a trade union in their workplace is a civil right that must be protected to the highest level, with new legislation backed by imprisonment and unlimited fines for anyone who interferes with it. For the Labour Party, these should be bread and butter manifesto commitments right now."
Notes to editors
text of press release on blacklisting:
Wednesday 11th September 2013
Welsh Government takes action to eradicate Blacklisting
Public sector bodies in Wales can exclude blacklisters from bidding for public sector contracts under new Welsh Government guidance that aims to eradicate the practice, Finance Minister Jane Hutt has announced.
Blacklisting is a practice where individuals have been denied employment opportunities because of their trade union membership or because of their involvement in trade union activity. It is known to have been used by construction companies operating in Wales, and to have involved Welsh construction workers.
A Procurement Advice Note has been issued to all Welsh public bodies to outline the necessary steps that can be taken through procurement to help eradicate blacklisting – which can be very damaging to the careers and livelihoods of trade unionists.
The guidance makes clear those circumstances where Welsh public sector bodies can exclude blacklisters from bidding for a public contract.
Jane Hutt said:
“The use of blacklists is wholly unacceptable and I fully sympathise with the individuals and their families who have suffered a terrible injustice as a consequence of contractors engaging in this practice.
“Procurement is an important part of the overall policy toolkit of the Welsh Government. Under no circumstances is it acceptable for any business in receipt of public procurement expenditure to use blacklists.
“I am determined to take action in Wales. I trust that other Governments in the UK will take similar action if they have not already done so."
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