A Year on From High Court Case, ‘Workers Still Being Blacklisted’

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A Year on From High Court Case, ‘Workers Still Being Blacklisted’

A year after blacklisted workers won compensation in the high court for historical cases of unfair employment practices, workers continue to be blacklisted, according to the union, Unite.

The legal case brought by the union, concerning the blacklisting of workers by the Consulting Association, involved the majority of the main contractor companies operating in the UK, and resulted in £20 million being awarded in compensation for 400 blacklisted workers.

Since then Unite has been compiling a dossier on blacklisting, which includes potential cases 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 (ICO), which is responsible for data privacy and conducted the original raid on the Consulting Association, to re-open its investigation into blacklisting. The ICO has indicated it will launch a new call for evidence on blacklisting, but not 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 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.”

Fresh court case
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 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.”

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