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ICO In Contempt Of Court On Blacklisting

Sunday, September 7, 2014

GMB Seeks Contempt Of Court Ruling Over Ico Refusal To Obey High Court Order Enabling Unions To Contact Blacklisted Construction Workers

The ICO had no difficulty with following a court order to give workers' names and addresses to the blacklisting employers but seem very reluctant to follow a very similar order in favour of the workers  GMB tells TUC Congress.

The TUC Congress in Liverpool was told today that GMB started enforcement proceedings in the High Court on Friday 5th September over the failure of the information Commission Office (ICO) to comply with a High Court ruling that they hand over to trades unions the addresses of workers blacklisted by construction companies.

Leigh Day solicitors, acting for GMB, has now filed an application for contempt of court based on the ICO breaching the group litigation order made in July that they hand over the addresses by August 25th. ICO admit they are in breach of the order.

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. See notes to editors 2 for the 97 areas in Scotland listed alphabetically where workers blacklisted are from with numbers. 

In July 2014, Leigh Day, acting for GMB, begun action in the High Court in London seeking compensation for 122 GMB members blacklisted by Carillion and other firms. GMB’s claims are joined with a further 449 claims by other unions and parties.

In June 2014 talks between GMB and lawyers representing eight 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. The eight construction employers are Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI PLC.

Following the breakdown of talks these employers announced that they are 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.

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. On 15th April the ICO said: “We don’t plan to write out to any more people, as we believe we’ve written to everyone who we can be sure of having up-to-date details for.”

Michael Newman solicitor from Leigh Day said "The ICO had no difficulty with following a court order to give workers' names and addresses to the Compensation Scheme, but seem very reluctant to follow a very similar order in favour of the workers.

 The ICO have also complied with previous court orders in relation to The Consulting Association, so we cannot understand why they are now refusing to follow a court order. The ICO have admitted they are in breach of the group litigation order, and we intend to take every step to enforce that order, including contempt of court."

Paul Kenny,GMB General Secretary, speaking at TUC Congress today, said "Why doesn't the ICO stop wasting taxpayers' money and do what the High Court has ordered it to do?

Yet again we see the ICO as state regulator appearing to bend over backwards to accommodate those guilty of blacklisting but this time also in contempt of a High Court.

Instead of putting obstacles in the way of speedy justice and compensation for the victims of blacklisting, it should just give us the information the high court ordered it to and let us get on with the job of contacting those blacklisted."

End

Contact for GMB  Justin Bowden on 07710 631351 or  Maria Ludkin on 07956 632657  or GMB press office at 07921 289880 or 07974 251 823

For people to identify more names on the blacklist call please call Phil Read at GMB on  07840 897997 or email him blacklisted@gmb.org.uk 

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

Notes to editors

1 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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