A year after Unite, the largest union for construction workers, secured a historic victory for blacklisted workers, the union is still fighting for justice for victims of the scandal.
The High Court case concerning the blacklisting of workers by the Consulting Association, which involved the majority of the main construction companies operating in the UK, resulted in Unite winning £20 million for 400 members that it represented.
Since then Unite has been compiling a dossier on contemporary blacklisting. The dossier includes potential cases of blacklisting on major flagship projects. In some cases it appears that employment agencies (which are responsible for most on site recruitment) appear to be operating their own blacklists.
Unite has been lobbying the Information Commissioners Office, which is responsible for data privacy and conducted the original raid on the Consulting Association to re-open its investigation into blacklisting. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has indicated that it will launch a new call for evidence on blacklisting but this will not begin until at least 2018.
Unite assistant general secretary for construction Gail Cartmail, said: “A year after the High Court case into blacklisting ended, it is all too obvious that the blacklisting of construction workers is still occurring. Despite blacklisting being a nasty secretive practice, Unite has been able to compile a dossier of these abuses.
“This is why it is imperative that the ICO re-opens its investigation into blacklisting in order for these practices to be fully exposed and action taken. These injustices will continue unchecked if as feared the ICO kicks blacklisting into the long grass and doesn’t even begin to seek evidence until 2018.”
As part of the High Court case the blacklisting companies agreed to provide re-training for their victims who wanted to return to the industry but who needed their skills and qualifications to be updated, in order to find work. Twelve months since the ending of the High Court case and despite ongoing pressure from Unite, none of the blacklisted victims have received the training they were promised.
Gail Cartmail added: “The blacklisters are showing contempt for the legal system and are exploiting loopholes, proving that they have not learnt anything from this scandal as they continue to delay and prevaricate in providing the training they are required to provide for their victims.
“The cost of the re-training is loose change for these huge companies but for the workers themselves it is their only opportunity to re-join their industry and properly provide for themselves and their families.”
Despite the High Court case being completed a year ago, victims of the Consulting Association blacklist are continuing to come forward. Unite are in the process of beginning a fresh court case where they will be representing over 60 members.
Unite are continuing to campaign for a full scale Leveson style public inquiry into blacklisting, so that the full truth behind the scandal, including the involvement of the police, security forces and the state can be revealed.
Gail Cartmail further added: “Over eight years since the blacklisting scandal was first revealed in 2009, victims are still coming forward and more information about the scandal is being discovered. The only way that we are ever going to get the complete truth is by holding a full public inquiry where those involved are compelled to give evidence and reveal what they did and what they knew.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.