Saturday, 13 March 2010

Licence to Blacklist: Blacklist Support Group Comments on Tribunal case

The written judgement from the first full-merits Employment Tribunal (Dooley v Balfour Beatty) today found in favour of the company.

This is despite written documentary evidence showing that Balfour Beatty supplied information to a secret blacklist database complied by the notorious Consulting Association being shown to the Tribunal (which the judge Mr. B T Charlton described as "ghastly" in court).

The blacklisting evidence was not disputed by Balfour Beatty, as it was the company themselves who provided the blacklist file as part of their bundle of documents arguing that the information on the file was justification for a dismissal in the early 1990s.

The decision turned on the question of employee status and found that Mr. Dooley (an ex-bricklayer, now a UCATT full-time official) was not an employee of Balfour Beatty, and only "employees" are covered by the legislation. In an industry where sub-contracting and agency labour is widespread, this effectively allows the major multi-nationals such as Balfour Beatty, Sir Robert Mc Alpine, Skanska and Costain to blacklist workers who complain about safety or unpaid wages with impunity (as almost all labour is sub-contracted out).

Coming only a few days after the newly introduced Blacklists Regulations were condemned by Human Rights Experts for :

  • failing to comply with even the minimum requirements of the Eurpoean Convention on Human Rights
  • failing to make blacklisting a criminal offence
  • continuing to allow blacklisting for issues such as environmental or peace activists
  • not making any compensation for proven victims of the current blacklisting scandal

Professor Keith Ewing - Kings College London (author of Ruined Lives Report by the Institute of Employment Rights into blacklisting in the UK construction Industry) said of the new regulations:
"the blacklisting of construction workers because of their trade union activities is a vile practice, to which the current government has to its eternal shame done next to nothing to eradicate, and even less to compensate the victims."
A spokesperson for the Blacklist Support Group said today:
"The secret database and Invoices exposed by the Information Commissioners Office following their raid on the Consulting Association provides overwhelming documentary evidence that 44 UK building companies have been systematically blacklisting trade unionists in the construction industry for nearly 2 decades. The firms involved are multi-national household names and have publicly accepted that their senior Industrial Relations managers were part of the blacklisting operation. If the companies concerned had any sense of decency or corporate responsibility, they would come clean and offer to make recompense to those workers who have suffered over many years.
The Dooley decision and the new Blacklisting Regulations are basically a get out of jail free card for the major contractors. The blacklisters can hide behind the fact that they sub-contract most of the labour on major projects to escape any kind of legal responsibility. The new regulations will not make an ounce of difference to the likelihood of success for any blacklisted building worker seeking legal redress. If the new Regulations fail to make any difference for workers who can prove they have been blacklisted, what is their purpose?
The Consulting Association conspiracy is a clear breach of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Blacklist Support Group send out an unambiguous message today: if our human rights cannot be upheld in the UK courts or from UK Regulations, then we will be taking our claims to the European Court of Human Rights. We have suffered for many years: we are prepared to fight all the way."

Blacklist Support Group

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