Unite secures historic million pound plus blacklisting legal settlement
- Tuesday 14 May 2019
Unite has settled its current long running blacklisting case against the construction companies who systematically ruined the lives of their workers.
As part of the overall settlement, which is subject to court approval, 53 blacklisted workers will receive over £1.9 million in compensation. The defendants have also agreed to pay Unite’s legal fees.
In a legal breakthrough the construction companies have agreed to place the substantial sum of £230,000 into a training fund which will be administered by Unite, for all victims of blacklisting who have brought proceedings. The fund is not restricted to retraining in the construction sector.
As part of the settlement, the judge’s permission will be sought for unilateral statements to be made in open court this Friday (17 May) and, if permission is granted, individual workers will explain how blacklisting ruined their lives.
Companies held to acccount
The construction companies convened have also agreed to issue their own announcement, saying that they aim to work at national, regional and site level to ensure that the modern UK construction sector provides the highest standards of employment and HR practice. Unite will hold them to account in this regard.
The latest court case follows the 2016 court action which resulted in Unite securing £19.34 million for 412 blacklisted workers.
Unite had utilised every legal avenue available to force Cullum McAlpine who is considered by Unite to be one of the main architects behind the Consulting Association blacklist of construction workers to give evidence in court under oath and be cross examined but this has proved to be impossible.
Cullum McAlpine’s refusal to appear in court and answer for his actions only serves to re-emphasise the need for a full public inquiry into blacklisting. As well as forcing Mr McAlpine and other key figures behind the blacklist to give evidence it also must investigate the involvement of the police, the security forces and the government in the blacklisting of construction workers.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said “This is a historic agreement which provides some degree of justice to a further group of construction workers who had their working lives needlessly ruined by blacklisting construction companies.
“The creation of a training fund controlled by Unite is a huge breakthrough, and is to be welcomed, as it will allow the union to assist victims of blacklisting return to employment.
“The refusal of Cullum McAlpine to give evidence is bitterly disappointing.
“Unite remains utterly committed to ensuring that those guilty of ruining workers’ lives should be forced to account for their actions. This is why it is absolutely essential that a full public inquiry into blacklisting is imperative.
“The Labour party is committed to holding a public inquiry into blacklisting and it is to their deep shame that the Conservative government, many of whose friends were key players in the blacklisting scandal, has refused to act.
“The blacklisting construction companies promised public statement is welcome about their future good behaviour and a new relationship with unions, but these words must be followed up by genuine actions.
“If they are serious, they must provide genuine unrestricted access to their sites and workforces, end the practice of moving union activists from one job to another to disrupt union organisation, end the reliance on agency labour and end the scandal of bogus self-employment.”
CLAIMANTS’ PRESS RELEASE
Unite the union, Thompsons, solicitors, and OH Parsons, solicitors, and the following construction companies - Balfour Beatty, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI - today announce that they have settled the litigation between them regarding the activities of the Economic League and the Consulting Association.
The litigation arose after the discovery of the secret vetting system, which operated between the early 1970s and February 2009, when it was closed.
Unite the union, Thompsons and OH Parsons commenced the litigation to protect the interests of their members and clients.
The construction companies have offered financial settlements which all Claimants have now accepted. Some of the Claimants will make statements to be read in Open Court.
Unite the union acknowledges that the settlement includes a substantial payment of £230,000 to a fund to be used by the union for the training of the Claimants in this litigation and in the Construction Industry Vetting Information Group Litigation, and others affected by the secret vetting system and to provide educational and training support to individuals working on construction sites in the United Kingdom, in particular on issues related to workers’ health and safety, which the parties agree is essential.
Notes to editors:
As a result of the 2016 court action against construction companies: Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci Plc, Unite (including construction union Ucatt which subsequently transferred into the union) secured £19.34 million for 412 blacklisted workers. The compensation was for breach of confidence/misuse of private information, breach of the Data Protection Act 1988, defamation and loss of earnings.
For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.
Email: [email protected]
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.