Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Scottish MP's Threat to Blacklisters

Jim Sheridan MP has called for construction firms that blacklist trade unionists to be barred from publicly funded projects. Speaking at a protest organised by the Blacklist Support Group and the UNITE Scottish rank & file outside Balfour Beatty HQ in Glasgow the Labour MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North said he would lobby government:
'Any contracts from British tax payers money: don't give them to criminals like Balfour Beatty who are blacklisting people'
The MP told the demonstration that years ago he had been blacklisted by the notorious Economic League because of his trade union activities and it was 'Soul destroying' being out of work for 3 years, especially when ....'the only reason you're not getting a job is because you are standing up for your fellow workers and to make a safe environment.
'I want to send a message to Balfour Beatty and the big construction firms. It really doesn't have to be this way. It is a long time since the days when trade unions and trade unionists were seen as the enemy within. You don't have to get into blacklisting. You don't have to get into undermining terms and conditions of employment that have been negotiated over the years peacefully.  How much profit do they want to make before they stop attacking and victimising people at the workplace?'
His closing message to Balfour Beatty was:
'If you're gonna keep blacklisting people - then we're coming after you.'
Protesters blocked the main road outside the Balfour Beatty offices in Hillington Park, Glasgow making traffic back up onto the M8 motorway after police had refused them permission to deliver a letter of protest to the Balfour Beatty premises.  
Pix avaiable on our facebook page.
The protest had been called to expose the role played by Balfour Beatty in the Consulting Association blacklisting scandal. One of the Directors of the company Gerry Harvey came in for particular criticism after it was recently revealed in parliament that he was one of the senior managers who attended the Consulting Association blacklist meetings which resulted in trade unionists losing their jobs.
Colin Trousdale, a blacklisted electrician and UNITE member from Manchester, told the crowd that in 2008 he had taken an Employment Tribunal against Balfour Beatty and that Gerry Harvey had sent a letter to the court saying that 'there is no blacklist, we are not blacklisting you, you are paranoid'.  Years later when the blacklist was finally uncovered the incident appeared on his blacklist file with the information supplied by the firm.
Colin said: ' Perjury is a crime. Being a union rep is not. We need to see these people in court. We need to see these people in prison.'
The protesters also highlighted the case of a young electrician and UNITE union activist  who has been on notice of redundancy for around 4 months and was told to finish up on Thursday 23rd August by a member of Balfours HR team, although his official finishing date was 31st August, he had requested holidays from the 24th of August and returning to work on the 10th of September. They told him that he would not be required back, even though Balfour Beatty are currently taking on new starters (including agency workers) across Scotland. The HR repesentative, after delivering this news to our comrade, added insult to injury by saying 'Have a good holiday.'  UNITE the union are calling on Balfour Beatty to 'Play by the Rules' and comply with the Nationally negotiated Agreements for construction.
Willie Black, blacklisted union activist said: "We are serious and we are going to defend anybody who we consider has been victimised" 
Jim Harte, spokesperson for the Scottish UNITE rank and file, gave an even starker warning regarding the fate of the victimised union member:
'We have to send a clear message: If he is not reinstated by 10th september, then action will be taken by the rank and file and by the workers at Grangemouth to make sure he is reinstated.'
Blacklist Support Group
UNITE Scottish rank & file

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