Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Constructi​on firm admits blacklisti​ng union member - potential major precedent for Agency workers

Photo: Mick Holder
(from  the Blacklist Support Group)For the first time ever, construction firms have openly admitted in court that they supplied information to a blacklist file and that the reason they added the information was to penalise the worker because of his trade union activities and because he raised health and safety issues.

The dramatic revelations came during the case of Smith v Carillion at the Central London Employment Tribunal yesterday.

In an unusual legal process, Mr. Smith and the respondent companies Carillion, Carillion (JM) Limited and Schal International Limited agreed a joint statement of facts which was presented to the court. Although couched in legalistic language the agreed statement is the first time ever that any of the mutli-national building firms has admitted blacklisting a union member and the reasons behind it.

In the agreed statement of facts and during Carillion (JM) Limited (previously John Mowlem Limited) and Schal International Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of Carillion) and Tarmac Construction (the foreunner of Carillion) admit that:

1. They blacklisted Mr.Smith

2. Their managers supplied information to the notorious Consulting Association blacklist about Mr. Smith

3. The Reason was because of Mr.Smith's trade union activities

4. An additional reason was because Mr. Smith raised concerns about health & safety on building sites.

5. The blacklisting caused Mr. Smith a "detriment"

This is the first time any of the major contractors who subscribed to the Consulting Association blacklist have openly admitted this in court.

In the same statement Mr. Smith agreed that he was not a direct employee of any of the respondent companies but worked via employment agencies (and because only "employees" are protected under current UK law, he should not be able to win his Tribunal)

In a shock turn of events, Carillion then applied for the case to be Struck Out as having no reasonable chance of success but the Tribunal refused the application and the case now continues until Friday.

Dave Renton (barrister for Mr.Smith) is now arguing that because of the scale and nature of the blacklisting scandal, the companies involved had breached the human rights of Mr.Smith and the relevent laws should be re-interpreted to cover all "workers" not just employees. If successful this would set a major precedent for agency workers and other employed via contractors.

In additional uncontested evidence presented to the court:

Sales Book and Invoices disclosed for the first time by the Information Commissoners Office following a Court Order demosntatre the extent of the usage of the Consulting Association blacklist by Carillion. Between 1999 and 2004 Carillion paid £32,145 plus VAT, whilst Mowlem paid a total of £20,444 plus VAT to the Consulting Association. Senior managers from both managers attended regional meetings as part of the blacklisting operation. Invoices indicate that managers from Carillion were attending Consulting Association meetings as late as 2008 (only months before the organisation was closed down).

The case continues tomorrow - a judgement is expected on Friday.

The Employment Tribunal continues tomorrow with evidence from Mr. David Clancy from the Information Commissioners Office (the person who led the raid on the Consulting Association offices which uncovered the illegal building industry blacklist).

Witnesses for the companies tommorw include a Director of Carillion.

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