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GMB Lodge 70 Claims In High Court On Blacklisting

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

GMB High Court Compensation Claims For 70 Members Blacklisted By Carillion And Other Construction Employers

We are confident that the High Court will find that substantial compensation and damages are due for what was effectively a black market in destroying workers’ reputations and job prospects says GMB

GMB, the union for construction workers, today lodge claims in the High Court in London seeking compensation for 70 GMB members blacklisted by Carillion and other construction employers.

Law firm Leigh Day, acting for GMB, is seeking compensation and injunctions for workers kept out of work as a direct result of an unlawful conspiracy by construction employers. The claims include defamation, given the damage to workers’ reputation from being on the blacklist.

This is the first High Court case taken by a trade union against all the players in this conspiracy and there will be further cases added to the 70.

The cases are on behalf of members from Aberdeen, Ayrshire, Barnsley, Barnstaple , Bangor, Betws near Ammanford, Birmingham, Brighton, Cornwall, Cheshire, Croydon, Chorley in Lancashire, Derbyshire, Dorset, Duntocher on Clydebank, Dunfermline, Ellesmere Port, Gourock, Greenock, Glasgow, Grimsby, Gwynedd, Hebden Bridge, Hull, Hartlepool, Hamilton, Inverclyde, Irvine, Knightswood and Possilpark in Glasgow, Kilmarnock, Lincolnshire, London E11, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Mitcham, Newcastle upon Tyne, Nottingham, Oxford, Paisley, Pudsey, Pembroke, Rochdale, Runcorn, Rotherham, Renfrewshire, Redhill in Surrey, South Sheilds, Stockwell, Southampton, Stirlingshire, Sunderland, Salisbury, Stoke on Trent, Strood in Kent, Suffolk, Swansea, Tyne and Wear, and Wigan.

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. Many of them are now nearing retirement age with no pension arrangements.

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. See notes to editors for more details of Carillion involvement in blacklisting.

There will be a debate on blacklisting this morning 4th June at GMB Congress in Plymouth.

There are 500 lay GMB member delegates in Plymouth till Thursday 6th June. Delegates are members who have been elected to represent over 620,000 members from every part of the UK and Ireland. They are employed in every sector of the economy.

Maria Ludkin, GMB National Officer for Legal and Corporate Affairs, said “GMB is pleased to be the first union to bring this wide ranging High Court action on behalf of our members.

Finally construction companies will be called to account for their systematic campaign to wipe out union organization on construction sites. This is only the tip of the iceberg. There are nearly 3,000 other workers with claims. The ICO needs to start acting like a serious regulator and let these victims know so that they can join this claim for damages”

Michael Newman, from Leigh Day, said “We are absolutely confident that the High Court will find that substantial compensation and damages are due from the construction industry for what was effectively a black market in destroying workers’ reputations and job prospects.

Not only was this database hidden, but much of the information on it was irrelevant or just plain wrong. This didn’t stop companies from trying to profit from blacklisting though, by keeping union workers off projects so they could meet project deadlines, regardless of concerns about health and safety, or working conditions.

Workers are only now finding out about this scandalous practice, and are rightly outraged.”

End


Contact: 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.

For Leigh Day: David Standard 07540 332717 or Michael Newman 0795 223 9358 or Chris Benson on 07795425649.

Notes to Editors

More information on Carillion involvement in blacklisting

The 224 people blacklisted by Carillion were either based in or tried to obtain work in the following areas ( with numbers in the area listed in brackets): Barnsley (1), Birkenhead (2), Blackburn (5), Brentwood (1), Bristol (1), Caernarfon (2), Canvey Island in Essex (1), Chatham in Kent (3), Cheshire (1), Chester (1), Cleator Moor in Cumbria (1), Clwyd (5), Croydon (1), Derby (1), Dundee (1), Edinburgh (2), Ellesmere Port (3), Essex (1), Folkestone (1), Gateshead (1), Glasgow (1), Gravesend (1), Grimsby (1), Hartlepool (2), Hillingdon (1), Irvine (1), Isle of Man (10), Kent (58), Kirkby (1), Leeds (2), Liverpool (14), Livingston (3), Llandudno (1), London (39), Lowestoft (1), Manchester (13), Merseyside (5), Mold (1), North Wales (1), Oldham (1), Plymouth (1), Rayleigh (1), Romford (2), Rotherham (4), Scunthorpe (1), Sheffield (1), Sherburn in Elmet in North Yorkshire (1), Stanford-le-Hope in Essex (2), Sunderland (1), Surrey (1), Thatcham in Berkshire (1), Uxbridge (3), Warrington (1), West Wickham (1), Wirral (5) and Woodbridge in Suffolk (1).

There is clear evidence that Carillion involvement with the Consulting Association blacklist goes beyond Crown House to include Tarmac, John Mowlem, Schal International, SkyBlue Employment Agency as well as Carillion itself.

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.

The Consulting Association sales book, records and invoices show that Carillion itself was charged subscription fees, additional fees for checking names and charges for attending Consulting Association meetings between 1999 (when Carillion was set up) and 2008 (a few weeks before the Consulting Association was closed down). Between 1999 and 2006 alone, Carillion paid the Consulting Association £32,182.74 + VAT This is one of the highest amounts charged to any of the subscribing companies. Prior to 1999, Tarmac was being invoiced for these services.

John Mowlem Limited now trading as Carillion (JM) Limited had a separate set of invoices and sales book records.

Carillion was charged for attending numerous Consulting Association meetings in Scotland, the North West, London and the South East region and Woodstock throughout this period. Senior managers employed directly by Carillion were attending Consulting Association meetings as late as 2008.

 

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