Over 20 members of Unite the Union and their supporters came to demonstrate and unfurl banners in their protest against the blacklist in the construction trade at the The Rock in Bury on Thursday 27th August 2009. The Rock project is one of the biggest building jobs in the UK, if not in Europe and Laing O'Rourke is the main contractor on the site. Laing O'Rourke has also been unmasked as an affiliate of The Consulting Association run by Ian Kerr. Last month, Mr Kerr admitted in Knutsford Crown Court to managing an illegal database or blacklist with the names of over 2,000 building workers on it. For this he was fined £5,000 + costs.
The demo was widely covered by the regional media and last night, BBC's North West Tonight ran a feature on the issue (see the video embedded i this post). Radio Manchester and the Bury Times is also giving coverage, not to mention the Morning Star. Workers on the site took leaflets and applauded impromptu speeches from the protesters. One worker reading a protest leaflet was warned by a gaffer that if he didn't get back to work he'd end up on the blacklist. Black humour, no doubt, but it sheds light on the degree of nervousness now prevailing on the nation's building sites owing to the recent exposure of the blacklist.
Yesterday, both Laing O'Rourke's spokesmen and the subcontractor NG Bailey (another affiliate of the Kerr: Consulting Association) denied discriminating against workers on grounds of their trade union and political membership.
After 4 hours of picketing the site some of the protesters moved to Bury Town Hall where they requested to speak with Mark Sanders, Chief Executive of Bury MBC. Mr Sanders it was claimed was 'in a meeting' and not available for comment. Later the Council issued a statement saying that 'to their knowledge none of the contractors on the Bury developments were blacklisting people'.