Thursday, 22 March 2012

Manchester Employment Tribunal: Claimants Blacklisted Electricians Tony Jones & Steve Acheson

The Pre-Hearing Review in the case of Tony Jones and Steve Acheson began yesterday on Wednesday 21st, March 2012. The story thus far is as follows:

Tony Jones is supported by UNITE the Union and represented by John Hobson from Doughty Street Chambers - who argued that the case should proceed to full merits hearing because the construction companies Carillion (and one time subsidiary Crown House Technologies), Balfour Beatty, Emcor (previously Drake & Scull), Phoenix and the employment agency Beaver Management had refused Tony work because he was a trade union activist on the following projects: Wembley Arena, Heathrow Terminal 5, Manchester University, Manchester Law Courts, Fiddlers Ferry Power Station. The information about Tony's trade union activism was shared amongst the construction giants in the illegal Consulting Association blacklist.

This was not just unlawful but was also in breach of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Employment Tribunal has a duty under the Human rights Act to uphold Tony's human rights and therefore it was argued, the case should be allowed to proceed to full merits hearing.

The construction firms had 4 separate barristers in court and argued that the case should be thrown out because it was "out of time" as the incidents had happened many years ago.

Employment Judge Brain has retired to give a reserved judgement (expected in a few weeks). Judge Brain has a history of harsh decisions on this matter having already thrown out the vast majority of blacklisting cases for being out of time. The consequence being that despite pages of documentary evidence implicating the construction firms in blacklisting, very few blacklisted workers have had the opportunity to seek justice in the courts.

Steve Acheson is taking a claim against Dimension Data for blacklisting him from the Holford Gas Terminal construction project in Cheshire under new Blacklisting Regulations 2010. Steve is represented by Nicks Toms and funded by Unite the Union.

This is the first ever Employment Tribunal taken under the new regulations which were introduced in the last days of the previous Labour government in response to the Consulting Association scandal. All the evidence was taken today and the case continues tomorrow with submissions from the barristers. A decision is expected tomorrow afternoon.

Steve said after the hearing yesterday:
'the managers from the blacklisting firms have been put through the mangle today but to fight the blacklist the unions need to do more than just support individual workers in court. We need to launch a proper campaign against this human rights abuse.'

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