Thursday, 31 January 2013

Chris Murphy R.I.P.

Sorry to hear the sad news of the passing of Chris Murphy a member of the UCATT Executive Council, life long trade union activist, a blacklisted building worker and a friend.

At last TUC Congress, Chris gave a memorable speech in favour of a General Strike. Chris appeared on the top platform of Blacklist Support Group, Construction Safety Campaign and Defend Council Housing public events. Chris Murphy was convener on London Underground and on London Borough of Islington DLOs, an example of a trade unionist that supported his class with a conscience.

I stood on many picket lines and shared many pints with Chris and was in regular contact with him up to last week, may he rest in peace. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.

Dave Smith
Blacklist Support Group



Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Fifty Shades of French Reaction

THERE is something distinctly Anglo-Saxon about the E.L. James' book 'Fifty Shades of Grey', the French critics last October, when it was first published in France, did their best to dismiss it as 'too consensual' and hygienic in its approach to sex. It is the story of the sexual encounters of a green-horn girl, Anastasia Steele, and a worldly billionaire, Christian Grey, in Settle; the man is into bondage and domination, and the lass is a virgin. The French critics condemned it as typically lightweight, sanitised Anglo-Saxon tripe and hypocrisy, falling well short of the hard-core authentic sadomasochistic style of the Gallic folk across the Channel.

It has nothing of the lyrical style of Anais Nin – the great pioneer of female erotica; none of the intellect of Georges Bataille and no dark Gothic pretensions such as in Marquis de Sade, with his tales of torture, fantasies of sexual abuse and murder. None-the-less, last week, I saw a report in the newspaper about an English bloke, influenced by 'Fifty Shades', who had been so carried away following the script in the book that the lass who'd consented to the sex play took him to court for assault. The case failed because the girl had agreed to take part, presumably expecting a little light spanking.     When I read 'Fifty Shades of Grey', last August, I had just had to help a Safety Representative at Bury MBC to fight a case brought under the Dignity at Work policy, which he was accused of breaching. Avoiding breaching the Dignity at Work policy involves watching your 'ps' and 'qs' while  your at work; that means being careful what you say and being aware that the casual language of jokes and banter can be very risky indeed. Now it seems to me that the significant thing about Christian Grey is his essentially Health and Safety, contractual approach to the business of bondage and domination. There is page after page of contractual terms and negotiations between the parties, with amendments being forced through to rule out certain activities, which the 'Submissive', Anastasia, in her wisdom, feels unacceptable. It's sadomasochistic sex on a contract.

How very Anglo-Saxon! How very English! And yet, recent reported sales of 'Fifty Shades of Grey' give it estimated sales of 900,000 print copies and 40,000 e-books in France, since last October.  It is all about Christian Grey's passion for the torture chamber, while at the same time applying the contemporary moral side constraints of health and safety, dignity at work and the law of contract:  For example 'Does the Submissive concent to accept the following forms of pain/punishment/discipline':  Spanking; Whipping; Biting; Genital clamps, and so on.  I suppose this is what passes for post-post-moden erotica.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Real George Orwell & Freedom Press

The Totalitarian Mind in the Modern World
AS Radio Four, this week, is running its series of programs under the title 'The Real George Orwell', Freedom Press, whose former editor, Vernon Richards, in the 1940s had a close and friendly relationship with Orwell, has taken a decision which we believe Orwell would have found utterly contemptible. 

Last year, some Northern anarchists and their now some 80 supporters sent a statement known as 'The Burnley Declaration' to the new editor of Freedom,Matthew – this declaration asks for the Anarchist Federation to disassociate itself from the actions of some of its members; Matthew then agreed to publish the declaration as a letter with the offer of a reply to the group being criticised in the 'Burnley Declaration', the Anarchist Federation. Immediately, Freedom was assailed by the founder of the Anarchist Federation, Nick Heath, a retired librarian, who works in the Freedom Bookshop on Wednesday afternoons. Mr. Heath threatened to break his relationship with Freedom if they published the 'Burnley Declaration': stop writing for the paper and labouring in the bookshop.

The Freedom editor, Matthew, then sought wider opinion within the Freedom Collective: with result,not to publish 'Burnley Declaration' in Freedom.  In an e-mail to Barry Woodling, Matthew explains:

'The decision not to publish the NAN statement remains.  Yes, I did originally agree to publish the statement, and yes, I then changed my mind. The reversing of this decision was done after consulting with the wider collective, and after discussions with several members of the Anarchist Federation...  Whilst I understand the dispute between the Northern Anarchist Network and the Anarchist Federation is of great significance for all those involved, I would not want Freedom to be seen as taking sides.  I hope you appreciate that we would like Freedom to report the positive side of the movement to both existing and to potential readers.  With that in mind I do not believe that covering this particular dispute is in the spirit of "promoting the movement". ' 

It is wrong for Matthew to suggest that it is only a 'dispute between the Northern Anarchist Network and the Anarchist Federation (AF)', because the attacks have been in public at bookfairs and others have suffered collateral damage from the physical attacks by AF members on the NAN and Northern Voices (see report on Five Leaves Blog 28th, Oct. 2012).

In November 1949, George Orwell wrote an essay entitled 'Through a Glass Rosily':
'The recent article by Tribune's Vienna correspondent (reporting the appalling behaviour of the Russian occupying troops, several readers protested against “this slander” on the Red army) provoked a spate of angry letters which, besides calling him a fool and a liar and making other charges of what one might call a routine nature, also carried the very serious implication that he ought to have kept silent even if he knew that he was speaking the truth.' 

This is relevant to the 'Burnley Declaration' because last year Martin Gilbert in a post on this Blog entitled 'Washing Anarchist Dirty Linen in Public' sought to demonstrate that the attacks on Northern Voices,and supporters of the Northern Anarchist Network by members of the Anarchist Fed. such as the Schoolmistress, Salad Cream Sally and her Nutcracker soldiers at the London Anarchist Bookfair and by Nick Heath at the Manchester Anarchist Bookfair, ought not to be challenged openly because it gives fuel to our enemies. George Orwell denounced this kind of talk arguing it amounts to a case of '... shut up and don't criticise: or at least criticise “constructively”, which in practice always means favourably. And, from this it is only a short step to arguing that the suppression and distortion of known facts is the highest duty of a journalist.'   Note how Orwell's use of the word 'constructive' here dovetails with Freedom's desire, expressed by Matthew above to 'report on the positive side of the movement'; what we have here portrayed rather nicely is what Orwell meant when he talked about the totalitarian mind in modern politics.

Donald Rooum, Matthew and the Freedom collective have now adopted this position,which Orwell in his essays time and time again condemns. It amounts to 'brush the it under the carpet'; 'see no evil'; or in the case of some, like the organisers at the London Anarchist Bookfair, adopting the pose of Pontius Pilot. Really, when there is a clear attempt by members of an organisation to put a publication out of business, then one would have expected something better of people calling themselves 'anarchists'. Eighty people have now called for the Anarchist Fed. to publicly disassociate itself from the irresponsible actions of some of their members, nobody is asking for blood. All that Freedom is required to do is to publish the 'Burnley Declaration' and give the Anarchist Fed. the chance to reply. To stand by and do nothing is irresponsible: it makes the anarchists look impotent in face of a crude attempt to damage Northern Voices and the NAN.

The Burnley NAN Declaration

Freedom the Anarchist paper with a long and distinguished history is sullying the memory of Kropotkin and others by engaging in a deplorable cover up of the disgraceful attack on me at the Manchester Anarchist Bookfair.    Freedom purports in its promotional blub 'to cover all aspects of the anarchist movement'.   Although the Burnley Northern Anarchist Network  declaration condemning the attack by one of the organisers of the bookfair backed up by Nick Heath of the Anarchist Federation has now received the support of over 80 activists including anarchists, greens, socialists, trade unionists and community activists across continents, Freedom is still refusing to publish the declaration.   It has kow towed to threats from the Anarchist Federation.   In the words of Doctor Martin Luther King:  'The truth must be told'.   

Monday, 28 January 2013

Redistributing wealth the Tory way!

It's said that politically, government's can get away with murder in England. There may be many reasons for this -  the English education system or even something they put in the water. But it may also be due to the fact that the English are by and large, a politically passive nation of people who dislike politics and  also distrust politicians. In comparison, French and Spanish workers are far more militant and politically aware.  The English also seem to suffer from a kind of atrophy of the will, which leads to a feeling of powerlessness and alienation that makes many believe, that they are powerless to influence events or unable to stop them. More astute observers of English society than me, have pointed to other reasons. When he was once asked what the population of England was, the Scottish historian, Thomas Carlyle, replied: "Thirty millions, mostly fools." The eminent English writer, William Makepeace Thackeray, also thought that the English were essentially stupid people.

When one considers what the present government are getting away with, it does make you think that both these writers have a point. While Britain's MPs get gold plated pensions, twenty weeks paid vacation a year and unlimited paid sick days, the rest of us, are told we will have to work longer and for less. If this isn't taking the piss, than I don't know what is.

The government welfare bill which was passed by the House of  Commons earlier this month, will limit rises in working-age benefits to 1% for the next 3 years in order to save £3.1 bn by 2016. More than 60% of those who will be hit by the benefit and tax credit cap, are people who are in work. Indeed, 93% of new housing benefit claims are from people who are in work but who cannot afford to pay their rent because their pay is so low.  The Cameron government say that they cannot afford the high cost of welfare but have nevertheless, given a £3bn-a-year tax cut to some of the highest income earners in this country. Just 8,000 millionaires, are now due to receive an average tax cut of over £107,000.

As the government cuts taxes for the rich, it increases taxes on the poor and those in work, and cuts state benefits and public services. It's not the rich or the bankers who are paying for the financial crisis but people on state benefits and those working within the public sector who have lost their jobs as public services have been cut and closed. Though some people do  protest about the injustice of all this, you've got to hand it to the Conservatives, they certainly know how to look after their own - the wealthy and privileged.  But what would you expect from a government of multi-millionaires and a party who according to the economist and philosopher F.V. Hayek, are the "defenders of established privilege."

While British attitude surveys have shown a  marked decline in support for redistribution since the mid-1980s, the Cameron government are certainly in favour of redistribution for their aristocratic friends and wealthy chums. Many public bodies are now packed with capitalist cronies who make substantial donations to the Conservative Party and many MP's of all parties, now hold lucrative positions on their boards. The management consultants KPMG and McKinsey have been awarded lucrative contracts from NHS reforms and did draft many of the proposals in the government Health and Social Care Bill. Since being appointed Chancellor, George Osborne has signed off over 61 PFI deals that ultimately will cost the British taxpayer around £35bn.

Another nice little earner for wealthy landowners and Conservative supporters is the payments they receive from the E.U. Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), under the 'single payments scheme'(SPS). The SPS is an award for owning land and the more you own, the more you receive. Although the Cameron government have lobbied unsuccessfully for a substantial cut in the CAP budget - which swallows 43% of the EU budget -  they have demanded that the E.U. drop a proposal to limit the amount that a landowner can receive.

Many British people will be under the impression that the main beneficiaries of this scheme, are French rustic farmers with smallholdings. But this is not the case. According to a government database, the entire budget is shared between 16,000 people or businesses and this includes some of the richest landowners in the country such as Cameron's father-in-law, Sir Reginald Sheffield. In 2010, the former Chairman of Northern Rock, Matt Ridley, received £205,000 from the taxpayer for owning the Blagdon estate. The Duke of Westminster, received £820,000. Every household in the UK is paying an average of £245 to some of the richest men and women in this country and the government is now trying to get the EU to restore 'headage payments', which were phased out in 2003. These are payments which a farmer receives for the number of animals in his fields. The Cameron government have justified these claims on the grounds that it would help to protect the environment and encourage the 'consolidation' of landownings. Yet 69% of the land in the UK is owned by just 0.6% of the population which means Britain has one of the highest concentrations of land ownership on earth.

Today, due to the policies adopted by both Labour and Conservative governments over the last 30 years, Britain is less equal in wages, wealth and life chances, than at any time since the 1920s and British children's achievements is more closely linked to parental status than in most developed countries. For many people in  this country, capitalism has failed to deliver jobs and decent wages and welfare has been the prop that has been used to augment poverty pay.

Last month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), disclosed that the top 10% of households were now 850 times wealthier than the bottom 10% of people in the UK. According to the figures, the richest 10% of households in this country, own 44% of the national assets. The report also disclosed that half of UK households have just £400 in net cash at hand, compared with the £123,200 in cash balances held by the top 10% of households.

At a time when the richest people in this country are getting richer, we are seeing falling wages, increased unemployment and debt and a rise in food banks, which are helping to feed people in need, including families with adults in work, and increases in child poverty. In Manchester, 42% of the city's under 18s are according to the Manchester Evening News (MEN) living in poverty.


IT'S LOOKING like FC UNITED has finally cracked it and got planning permission for a stadium of 5,000-capacity at Ronald Johnson Fields in Moston in Greater Manchester. Though a group of local residents still hope to block the stadium by being granted a judicial review.

FC UNITED is a non-league club, originally formed in protest at the Glazier family's takeover of the premier league club Manchester United. Last Friday, a High Court judge found that planning approval for the FC UNITED stadium should stand. Thus, the rebel club now has a opportunity to create a home for their club: recently FC UNITED have been playing at Gigg Lane in Bury for their home games. Some Moston residents have welcomed the judge's verdict, considering that the £4.6 million plan will bring in investment and offer facilities to the young in the area. Others fear that the stadium will be built on a green field site and introduce problems.

The Accrington Pals in the First World War

Theatre Review at Royal Exchange, Manchester:

IT'S not 'The Good Soldier Schweik in the First World War' by Bertold Brecht or 'Oh, What A Lovely War' by Joan Littlewood, but Peter Whelan's 'The Accrington Pals' at now on at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre, is a treat to see. In the queue to buy seats last Saturday someone said on of the review critics had complained that the dialogue was far too broad for the Southerners to understand. We all laughed at that! Even though some of those present laughing in the queue were from South Manchester, and even Cheshire. Accrington Pals is, of course, full of the language of Northern Lancashire.

The author, Peter Whelan, says:
'I walked to streets of Accrington to get a feeling of the town and spent rewarding hours in Accrington library. I was well looked after there (long live libraries). I ... pored over their microfilm archive of the Accrington Observer... living through the reports of those weeks either side of the Somme battle. Then, as I began to people the play, the memories of my family again made themselves felt... some suggesting the beginnings of characters, some contributing family sayings, attitudes, anecdotes or jokes.'

But it is the central character, May, and her semi-detached and undeveloped romantic relationship with her second cousin, Tom, that forms a tension in the play:  portrayed early on by May mishearing the sensitive Tom, heard merrymaking and carousing after the pubs closed with his pals outside May's house after signing up to join the 11th (Service) Battalion (Accrington) East Lancashire Regiment, which was dubbed the 'Accrington Pals'. May, thought she heard Tom shout 'I'll be glad to get away from her!,' but Tom claimed he said: 'I'll be glad to get away from here!'

Michael Billington, in The Guardian, wrote that when he first saw the play in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production in 1981 he felt 'it belonged to the Manchester playwriting school of Harold Brighouse and Standley Houghton'. This 'realistic' Manchester school of playwrights, was founded in the early 1900s, and Chris Draper in Northern Voices No.13 gave the Royal Exchange his top billing in 'Six O' the Best Northern Theatres'.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Billy Goat's taste for Flowers

A magistrate in Australia, this week, has dismissed charges against a man fined after his goat named Gary ate flowers outside the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.  A video online showed Gary, a white anglo-Nubian Billy Goat sporting a colourful trilby and chewing on a geranium leaf.  His owner, Comedian Jimbo Bazoobi (real name:  James Dezarnaulds), as left they both left the Sydney court room had donned a black tee-shirt with 'Goats Need Love too' on it.

The police prosecuting the case argued that Mr. Dezarnaulds had acted recklessly in letting a hungry goat graze around the city's flower beds.  The issue seems to revolve around the problem of the Billy Goat's lack of discrimination in that in his ruminations he didn't distiguish between grass and the flowers.

The magistrate, Carolyn Barkell, found that there was no evidence that the owner had set Gary to eat off the flower bed, and was totally unaware of Gary's taste for flowers.  She there ordered that the fine of A$440 (£293) that Mr. Dezarnaulds had been ordered to pay by a lower Court should not have been issued.

This case, of course, takes us back to our own famous Manchester case in the 1990s, when a herd of goats from Rochdale were rounded up by British Rail Transport police on Victoria Station in Manchester, while attempting to travel by train to join demonstration of the unemployed workers in Bolton. The goats involved included Doris, a mature Nanny Goat and veteran of several demos who died in 2003, her surviving daughter Edna, and a young Billy Goat who.  As the owner of the trio I was handcuffed and the Irishman, Sean Dempsey, who was with me soon took to his heals and scaddled.

In that particular case, as well, the magistrate in the lower Court found against me as the owner: Breach of the Peace and obstructing a police officer, I think.  This was reversed later in the Manchester Crown Court, when the Judge found that though the police had the right to remove the goats from the Bolton bound train because they were not travelling with valid tickets; the British Rail Transport police had no right to remove their owner who had a valid ticket.  Naturally, the Judge declared the goats would leave the train when their owner was removed simply because they were tethered with a chain to their owner.  Thus the police had breached the contractual right to travel of the owner; no doubt in fairness to the police at the time in the 1990s, they didn't fancy being on their own in charge of a herd of goats on Victoria Station without their owner being on hand to help.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Political Prisoners & Luddites in York

ALMOST 100 turned up last Saturday at the York Guildhall to a commemorate the 200-year anniversary, in January 1813, of the execution of several men accused of being Luddites. In York, at that time, before a densely packed Court room all the men were found guilty of crimes like criminal riot, unlawful oaths, robberies etc. They were men of the West Riding of Yorkshire: of the Calder Valley, of the Spen Valley and the Colne Valley. A contemporary writer wrote:

'As the day broke slanting rain faded away to reveal flakes of snow' as the men were taken shackled to York Castle to be punished, the streets were heavily policed because of the 'fear that people will try to rescue the people before they were executed'.

 Dr Katrina Navickas at the University of Hertfordshire, spoke eloquently and pointed out that to the men from the West Riding in those days the city of York was 'a foreign land'. It was, she said, a case of 'execution for political of social crimes'. It was the time of the last years of the Napoleonic Wars, and Ms. Navickas told us that in the West Riding there were 'communities of silence' with a fear of spies, but Joseph Woods from Halifax visited the parents of one executed man Tom Smith to uncover some of the facts. She claimed the Luddites were not 'a faceless mob' but were confronted, as we are today, by a free market economics in which the invisible hand of capital would 'increase profits' and 'cheapen labour'. Government had already 'banned' trade unions in the early 1800s.

In their letters the Luddites had shown themselves to be knowledgeable looking to protection from the Elizabethan laws. They knew that the new technologies of their time would threaten to reduce their skills as workers. In a book by George Walker 'The Costumes of Yorkshire' there is an illustration of a Luddite as a man in a woman's dress; rather like the one in the painting by Ford Madox Brown entitled 'Work' (this picture is at present in storage at the Manchester Art Gallery).

Professor Malcolm Chase addressed the issue of York as a historic place for political prisoners because it was the epicentre of Yorkshire. From the imprisonment of Welshmen in 1295; through the jailing of Parisian nobles in the 15th Century; to the men of the West Riding being hung, drawn and quartered in 1664; and on to the Jacobite executions 'York was a political place,' he said. Indeed, it seems that York was the major political prisoners after London. York was a centre of reform and Pro. Chase said 'Campaigns for centre for political reform often began in York'; these political vibrations continued right up to the First World War.

The last speaker, Alan Brooke, was indeed an anarchist from Huddersfield and he claimed that in 1912 George Greensmith, a local anarchist, claimed that 'the syndicalists were inspired by the Luddites'. He made many quotations with references to Gustav Landau's criticism of Marx, the Munich Soviet, Max Weber, Tomas Mann, Bellock, Chesterton, Louis Mumford, and Friz Lange's film 'Metropolis'. He said: 'The Luddites tried to engage the people for a law to stick to and uphold the Elizabethan Statutes'. But it was a time when the regime didn't want the market or the workplace to be constrained by statutes.

Curiously the problems of the weavers, colliers, and other workers of Nottinghamshire, Leicester, Yorkshire and south Lancashire over the introduction of new technology and their attempts to retain their skills and artisan crafts, has some similarities to the the late 19th century struggles of the Spanish rural workers of Andalucia to fight 'piecework' through violent action: in 1882, these workers who labelled themselves the 'Desheredados' or 'Disinherited', consisting of the vineyard labour of Jerez and Arcos de la Frontera, broke away from the Regional Workers' Federation after the Congress in Seville in that year. Gerald Brenan writes in 'The Spanish Labyrinth':

'The real struggle on the large estates was over destajo (piece-work)... The landlords could not pay decent wages so long as their labourers did so little work. The labourers would not work harder because by doing so they would increase the already cruel unemployment. The serfs, landlords got serf labour – that is, bad and unwilling labour – but the labourers did not get the one privilege of which is maintenance.'

The issue of piece-work was serious for the people of this South West corner of Spain in the late 19th Century, just as the issue of the introduction of new technology was for the people of the West Riding of Yorkshire in the early 19th Century.  In both cases they thought the practices were inhuman and degraded people.  Gerald Brenan explains:

'Feeling in the country districts at that time (1880s) was especially tense because the last two years had been years of severe drought and famine. The starving labourers had had to stand by and watch the crops on the large estates carried off to be sold at high prices in Seville or Cadiz. Ever since 1876 discontent had been acute and had shown itself in burnings of vineyards and in assassinations. Secret groups and societies pullulated. Then came a year of exceptional abundant rainfall. The harvest was excellent and a strike of reapers against piece-work led to a state of excitement and expectation in the whole district.'

In both cases the people responded in the best way they could and perhaps the only way they could; through riot and direct action.  In the absence of proper trade unions the Luddites were attacking machinery while trying to invoke the Elizabethan statutes to protect themselves, and the labourers of the Cadiz province of Southern Spain were seeking 'justicia' by sabotage and direct action.  There seems to be some similarity in these struggles.  As he faced the prospect of execution in York George Mellor spoke up:

'The human soul is worth more than work or gold'

One could image a Spanish anarchist in Andalucia in the 19th Century saying something similar.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Voices' helps do it again!

SINCE 2003, Northern Voices has been in the forefront of the battle to get justice for blacklisted workers, and Tameside Trade Union Council has helped local electricians in Manchester to produce a newsletter entitled the 'North West Cowboy'. In the last year or so this Trades' Council has been trying unsuccessfully to get  local council leader, Kieran Quinn, to explain why Tameside MBC is awarding contracts to firms like Carillion that have been affiliated to 'The Consulting Association', which has blacklisted workers for years.

Today finally the Labour Party nationally took up the job they should have been doing years ago.

Today, Labour having forced a debate will call for action to stop the blacklisting of workers and a full investigation of blacklisting allegations, including in relation to major public projects such as Crossrail and the Olympic Park in a House of Commons opposition day debate next week.

In 2009, the Information Commissioner found secret files on thousands of workers in the construction sector resulted in people being denied employment and their livelihoods after raising legitimate health and safety concerns or exercising their human right to belong to a trade union, and were used by more than 40 of the UK’s largest construction firms. This week, construction firm Balfour Beatty confirmed that it conducted blacklisting checks on individuals seeking work on construction of Olympic venues.

Many of those affected still haven't a clue that they were included on the secret construction blacklist which was uncovered by the Information Commissioner’s Office in a raid in 2009. Questions remain on why the ICO did not seize other documents found at the scene. In next week’s debate, Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna will call for the Information Commissioner to adopt a proactive process for informing individual victims of blacklisting so that they can seek compensation.

Labour’s motion asks the Government to examine whether further changes are needed to ensure that appropriate, effective sanctions are in place to tackle and prevent blacklisting.
Recent evidence which has emerged as part of a Scottish Affairs Committee Parliamentary inquiry into blacklisting in employment has brought forward allegations of widespread use of blacklists in relation to major public sector construction projects and that intelligence used to compile blacklists came from police officers and the security services, as well as revealing the existence of a further blacklist of environmental activists. 
Chuka Umunna MP, Labour's Shadow Business Secretary, commenting said:
Blacklisting is a national scandal. Workers have had their livelihoods destroyed, their reputations tarnished and in some cases their families torn apart just because they raised health and safety concerns or were a member of a trade union. And the further tragedy is that many of those affected have no idea that they have been blacklisted. 
'As well as investigating blacklisting allegations in full, including those relating to public construction projects, Ministers need to look again at what changes need to be made to ensure blacklisting is prevented and that this scandal is never repeated again.' 

That's twice in three months that the Voices has helped to crack it and bring cases out into the open!  The last job we did was to help destroy the myth of Cyril Smith back in November.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Review: The Cleavage in 'Trade Union Solidarity'

Trade Union Solidarity:  Send for 1 for a 20-pages copy of 'Solidarity' on the basis of 4 issues per year: £7 inc. - P&P.  Make cheques out to 'Solidarity' and send to Glen Burrows, 1, Blake Place, Bridgewater, Somerset, TA6 5AU.

I WAS sitting at a Tameside Trade Union Council meeting last year when Derek Patterson, the President, swept into the room and ceremoniously pulled out a crumpled up copy of the 1st issue of Trade Union Solidarity out of his pocket and promptly put it on his chair to keep the dust off his trousers. Seating himself comfortably, he said:
'It gives me no great pleasure to say this, but this is all it's fit for!'
Whereupon, he promptly began picking his nose with one hand and conducting the meeting with the other. 

Is this a fair assessment of this trade union publication; put out mostly by the radical left syndicalists down South and in the Midlands? The early issues I think lacked a certain sexiness and resembled too much the dreary sheets put out by the main stream unions in this country: photographs of picket-lines, union flags and banners.  I say this having done an interview with the blacklisted electrician, Steve Acheson, in the 1st issue, and having helped obtain trade union contacts at Park Cakes in Oldham for the 2nd. 

Somehow, I didn't get to see the 3rd issue so I can't comment on that but this week I received a copy of the 4th issue, and my first impression is that it's vastly improved. I say this, while looking at the cleavage of a voluptuous French woman, a supporter of the CGT with red hair, on the front page. It's not just about cleavages, of course, this issue of T.U. Solidarity covers 'The angry summer of the Spanish miners' in the Asturias in Spain by Emy Castelao, a USDAW Rep. at Primark in Taunton; an account by barrister, Dave Renton, of a redundancy case and his claim that 'redundancy dismissals are almost impossible to win...'; an interview of Keir Snow with French CGT trade union activist, Oliver Delous; a report on the use of prison labour, including an interesting interview with a Category 'D' prisoner on prison labour; and in another article Keir Snow has an interview with a lad from Dundee.

I must confess to being a bit troubled by the suggestion in the piece by Dave Chapple on the PCS that a '15-minute strike' gives members of trade unions the feel good factor and that 'one member said to me “even if we lose in the end at least I feel like I tried...'  Well that's one view!  Another view may be that these kind of actions, and the two big marches by the TUC demonstrate the impotence of the trade unions and create a lowing of worker morale with inconclusive actions. Nor does the window breaking by the Black Bloc do much good either. One feels like Mother Courage in the Brecht play of the same name when she said to that malcontent soldier: 'Get back to your post I can see you're not angry enough!'  The state of the British trade union movement is closer to that captured in an interview by Becca Kirkpatrick with Sophia James, a UNISON Young Members' Officer at Aberdeen Universities Branch on page 2:  where Sophie says:
'The trade union movement to me is crucial... but it's dying out.  There is a significant gap in young members and a substantial risk of apathy leaving a young person open to the erosion of workplace rights...'

What struck me was the prominence on page 3 given to an interview with Carlos Mondaca, a Chilean 'libertarian historian' and environmental campaigner, conducted by Beck Hillman. Senor Mondaca says: 'Reports on trade unionists' cultural and recreational activities should be a must in any trade-unionist publication: we must break up apathy and begin to socialize the trade unions. This means strengthening relations with all sorts of cultural associations that share similar class-struggle horizons...' He then reinforces this with the following: '... there is way too much text in TU Solidarity. This, of course, depends on the reading capacity of target audience, which I don't personally know. But in Chile, that amount of text would be unacceptable for any trade-unionist publication. So it is good to look for other ways to communicate the same messages: cartoons, drawings, photos, and humour all encourage creativity and make links with wider society.' 
Most left-wing publications in this country have too much text, and not enough grapgics or humour.

This 4th issue of TU Solidarity does show signs of taking this on-board with a page of coverage of Bill Douglas's film 'Comrades' by Kevin Leeiton. There's also another Keir Snow interview with Liam Young about films and especially about his film 'Faces of Glasgow' on the back page. Give us cleavages, give us nipples – anything that stops Derek Pattison from sitting on the publication and picking his nose at Trades' Council meetings.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Will the AF be the Death of Freedom?

THE recent actions of  Nick Heath and the Anarchist Federation may now be putting the paper of the anarchist movement 'Freedom' in danger:  there have been several reports of northerners in or close to, the Anarchist Fed. wanting to disassociate themselves from the two reported Bookfair incidents in London and Manchester last year.  Freedom must now be clear where it stands on freedom of the press.  Below is a letter sent to the editor of Freedom last week by one of the recent victims of the Anarchist Fed's low level bullying, Barry Woodling, a NAN supporter and member of the editorial panel of Northern Voices:

Dear Editor, 
Freedom as an anarchist paper has a long history of defending freedom of speech since its foundation by Peter Kropotkin in the 1880s. I am therefore greatly disturbed by the volte face committed at the paper in relation to the publishing of the Burnley NAN Statement to the Movement. You originally agreed to publish and then changed your mind claiming "naivety"

on your part. It appears that you succumbed to "nasty" letters from 2 leading members of the Anarchist Federation, one of whom was Nick Heath. 

My eviction from the Manchester Anarchist Bookfair was a shocking authoritarian action in which I was attacked both verbally and physically and smeared as an anti-semite. I find this monstrous allegation incredibly offensive in view of the fact that many members of my mothers family were murdered in Nazi concentration camps during WW2.

I would request that all the correspondence relating to the NAN statement be published. Furthermore failure to publish the NAN statement makes Freedom complicit in the cover up and is tantamount to condoning this unwarranted attack on a NAN supporter.

IN conclusion transparency and accountability is a sine qua non of the anarchist and libertarian movement and Freedom will lose all credibility if it does not adhere to these principles.

Yours in solidarity,
Barry Woodling

Friday, 18 January 2013

Crossrail & the Blacklist Scandal

THE 2 largest publicly funded construction projects of the past decade, the Olympics and the Crossrail project both find themselves caught up in the very epicentre of the blacklisting scandal. 

After years of denials, firms who built the Olympics Park have finally admitted that they checked names of prospective workers with the illegal Consulting Association blacklist. In a letter sent to the Olympic Development Association chief executive Dennis Hone by Balfour Beatty construction chief executive Mike Peasland, the firm, which built the Olympic aquatics centre has admitted using the services of blacklisting organisation the Consulting Associationin 2008 to check prospective Olympics workers. The admission has been exposed in an article in Building Magazine by investigative journalist Will Hurst. 

Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd and Skanska (responsible for the Olympic Stadium and the Media Centre respectively) have both issued statements denying specific blacklisting on the Olympics project.

A statement for the Blacklist Support Group said:  
'The truth about the Olympics blacklisting is finally being uncovered.'

But even now, both Sir Robert McAlpine and Skanska have denied using the illegal Consulting Association blacklist to check prospective workers on the project. Blacklisted workers have had to listen to decades of lies and denials about the existence of a blacklist of trade unionists in the building industry. many of us tried repeatedly and failed to gain employment on the Olympics project and others who did manage to find a job were quickly removed or dismissed from the Olympics because of the blacklist. Even now, when the evidence in the pubic domain, the companies are still trying to spin the story. 

Between 2008-2009 both Skanska and Sir Robert McAlpine were each invoiced in excess of £28,000 by the Consulting Association for name checks of workers on their sites. This is the highest ever invoices paid by any firm subscribing to the blacklist.

From 2006-2009, David Cochrane, Head of Human Resources at Sir Robert McAlpine Limited was the chairman of the Consulting Association, a post that Stephen Quant, Director of Industrial Relations for Skanska at the time of the Olympics project had previously held.

Sir Robert McAlpine and Skanska please inform us what other major construction jobs they were undertaking during this period that needed so many blacklist name checks? 
The companies explanations are completely implausible and we look forward to when they face questions in the High Court and at the Select Committee investigation into blacklisting. Under no doubt, blacklisted workers intend to continue our fight for justice until these mutli-national firms face justice, apologise and compensate us for this systematic human rights abuse."

Cullum McAlpine, Director of Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd - part of the McAlpine dynasty - first Chairman of the Consulting Association, who personally bought the building industry blacklist from the Economic League and set up Ian Kerr in business is giving evidence to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigation into blacklisting on Tuesday 22nd Jan 2013.

Other blacklisting firms including Skanska, Balfour Beatty, Kier and Carillion are likely to be called to give evidence in the next few weeks. 

Bosses at Crossrail (the largest publicly funded project in Western Europe) are also under attack and have been forced to issue a statement after the Greater London Assembly passed a motion calling for an investigation into whether tax-payers money was being spent on blacklisting on the project. The GLA vote follows widespread concerns about victimisation and blacklisting of workers who raised safety concerns, on the project that has been closed down twice in the past few months during investigations by the Health & Safety Execeutive following major accidents at Holborn and Westbourne Park.

The Crossrail statement quoted in the Newham Recorder says:
"It is simply not true that 28 workers were removed from the project for raising health and safety concerns."

This statement relates to the ongoing Crossrail industrial dispute and Employment Tribunal claims following the removal of 28 UNITE union members who worked for the E.I.S. electrical firm. After E.I.S workers elected union reps who raised concerns about the safety of high voltage cables, the reps were suspended from site and a few weeks later, the E.I.S. contract was unexpectedly finished 3 years early.
The Head of Industrial Relations at Crossrail at the time of the victimisation of the union reps and cancellation of the contract was Ron Baron. Barron has now been sacked by Crossrail after it was discovered that he had Employment Tribunal judgments naming him as a leading blacklister.

The consortium building Crossrail is BFK (Bam - Ferrovial - Kier)

Ferrovial are a Spanish multi-national that owns Stanstead Airport. Bam and Kier are both proven blacklisters of trade unionists having been subscribers to the Consulting Association.

Danny O’Sullivan of Kier was previously the Chairman of the Consulting Association.

Both Crossrail and BFK have been named as respondents in an Employment Tribunal being taken by Frank Morris - blacklisted UNITE union rep. This claim is being brought under the new Blacklisting Regs 2010 that were introduced in the last days of the Labour government. What is different about these Regs is that the claimant doesn't need to be an employee of the company - they apply to any "person" - as Frank Morris did not work directly for Crossrail or BFK but for E.I.S. this will be a test case of how the law is applied.

Crossrail is also expected to be asked to give evidence at the Select Committee in due course.

Spain's Best Exhibitions of 2012

Our art correspondent Chris Draper says: 'It's not the folk that counts, it is the spaces, town-scapes and landscapes!'

LAST month, El Pais reported that the critical acclaim of both the public and the critics in Spain for the best art exhibition had co-insided with the exhibition of Edward Hopper's work at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid coming out on top. At the same time as the critics gave their verdict in favour of Hopper, so the results of the voters on El Pais digital concluded the same.  Ought we to draw any significance or comfort from these two verdicts the one based upon supposed expertise and the other rooted in the public instinct and eye for what it likes?
Pinned Image

Evening Wind by Edward Hopper 1921
Writing in El Pais, Guillermo Solana wrote: 'For me the two tribunals, the critics and the public, have the same authority, and they both complement each other.  The differences ascribed to the critics we understand well, while the public is always and enigma'  Senor Solana takes the view that the importance of Edward Hopper rests beyond his style as a painter, and that his popularity with the public has much to do with the atmosphere of the spaces in his pictures that give the public a window on the

'La carretera que atraviesa los Wolds' by David Hockney

The David Hockney exhibition at Museo Guggenheim in Bilbao showing his recent figurative paintings of Yorkshire countryside, and other landscapes such as the one above came second after the Hopper exhibition.  This interesting because in the forthcoming Northern Voices No.14, Christopher Draper will be featuring David Hockney alongside L.S. Lowry from Salford in his regular 'Six O' the Best' contribution.  Hockney, frequently with a fag in his hand, is a bit of a curmudgeon, but then again so was Lowry. 

The third, in the Spanish best exhibitions line-up for 2012 is the 'El ultimo Rafael' at Museo del Prado.  'Claes Oldenburg' came in at number four, also at the Museo Guggenheim in Bilbao, and 'La vanguardia aplicada,  Tipografia y diseno grafico (1890-1950)' at the Fundacion Juan March scored at number five. Sixth was the exhibition of 'Maria Blanchard' at the Fundacion Botin y Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, and the seventh was 'Nacho Criado' also at the same venue.  At eighth was 'El joven Van Dyck' also at Museo del Prado.  Number nine was 'Genealogias feministas en el arte espanol:  1960-2010' at the Musac, and ten was 'Encuentros con los anos 30' at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid.

Recently, talking to Chris Draper – the N.V. Correspondent on art and culture - he told me that Lowry had said that the 'match-stick' figures in his pictures are the least important part of the work, I think he told me that Lowry merely regarded them as add-ons or afterthoughts, and that it was the spaces and landscapes displayed that were the essence of his art. With Edward Hopper, Guillermo Solera in El Pais writes:
'Hopper fascinates the public, because the majority of the public look to see in a pictures the same as what they look for in a novel and in a film, and this precisely what they are after, they are looking for a world – a habitable space, a window to travel into other lives, and into the possibility to live these lives imaginatively and the hope to finally own these existences...'  

Laurence Stephen Lowry from Salford, was a rent collector, while the New Yorker Edward Hopper, Senor Solana writes, worked in his youth as a graphical illustrator of journals and books, and that he went on to apply these skills to his paintings.  Considering these point about Senor Solana's view on Edward Hopper's popularity with the Spanish public it will be interesting to see how Chris Draper deals with some of the great artists of the North of England such as Lowry from Salford, Hockney from Yorkshire, Etty from York, the Pitmen Painters from Northumbria and even Walter Kershaw from Rochdale.

Letter to Bob Miller; dated 8th, Oct. 2010.

THIS week, we at Northern Voices have had several appeals that we should tone down our criticism of the Anarchist Federation (AF), Nick Heath and those who have gone out of their way to attack both the N.V. journal and individuals associated with the forum entitled the Northern Anarchist Network. Yesterday, someone I respect close to the Freedom Collective wrote:
'... hope you can now drop the campaign against the AF loonies. It only adds to the damage.' 

Last night, both John Simpkin (Lancashire) and John Walker (London), new members on the Northern Voices' editorial panel, urged that we should not give such a small group as the Anarchist Federation too much credibility by giving them too much attention, either on the Blog or in our publication. The distinguished libertarian intellectual, David Goodway, earlier this week told me he felt that the Burnley Declaration was a bit strong and could do to be toned down

The reason that we can't oblige is based on empirical knowledge and the painful experience of the last few years in dealing with some of our most violent critics: as evidence of the kind of burden we've carried in silence since about 2005 I produce a letter I wrote to Bob Miller, a member of the AF, in October 2010 complaining of an attack on a stall at the Manchester Anarch. Bookfair by his wife, Sally Hymen who took away several copies of N.V.  Mr. Miller, who has since died, never replied, but since then things have got considerably worse and more violent particularly at the London and Manchester Bookfairs, as has already been reported in posts on this Blog.
Brian Bamford:  Editor of Northern Voices, e-mail:
Manchester Anarchist Federation, 
Robert Miller,
8th, Oct. 2010. 
Dear Bob,
I am writing to you about an incident that happened at the Anarchist Bookfair at the Dance House in Manchester last Saturday involving one of your members. The person concerned made several abusive attacks on supporters on the Northern Anarchist Network stall and briefly purloined (meaning took away) a number of copies of the publication Northern Voices No.10 from the stall. Because this person's actions and her utterances were committed in public it is necessary for us to take this matter seriously. You will recall that a similar incident involving the same person took place last year at one of your meetings and you briefly placed a 'ban' of my attendances. But since this latest incident was committed in public it will be necessary for us to deal with it in the same way. We propose to cover this incident and the background to it in an appropriate way by referring it to the next NAN meeting and publishing the story its background. I mention the background to last Saturday because it involves a history of uncomradely behaviour which the person concerned Sally has sought to excuse: I refer, of course, to Ron Marsden's conduct during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War in 2006 and issues stemming from that occasion. Ron sided at the time with people who were opposing reference to the CNT and other aspects of that war that would have given, to use the constitutional requirement: 'a balanced history of the Spanish Civil War'. His name later appeared in public alongside members of that breakaway pro-communist group at an exhibition commemorating the local volunteers [largely communist] who went to Spain at the time of the Civil War. Up to now Ron's role in those events has not been mentioned in any publication, but last Saturday's events and the circulation of a letter by Ron in which he admits to allowing the Working Class Movement Library to 'make copies of the photos' of the Spanish Republican prisoners taken by Vernon Richards compañera after the Civil War. He does not say in the letter if he made any conditions regarding accrediting the reproduction of these photos in event of the publication by the Library or a third party and a booklet 'From Manchester to Spain' containing one of these photos has already used one such photo. I mention all this because you ought to better understand the background, but also because Sally's outburst last Saturday coincides with offensive remarks contained in this letter from Ron to another party; reference to 'animal abuse', 'Anti-Semitism' and 'sexism', 'which can be proved' are claimed. I understand that Sally made other unsubstantiated allegations at last Saturday's Bookfair. In the circumstances it is now necessary for me to approach you, as the principle member of AF in the Manchester area, to ask if your organisation is supporting these allegations being made against me by Sally and Ron? Both by their actions have now placed this matter in the public domain. We will await your reply on this matter but I urge you not to delay as we are shortly to go to press.
Yours fraternally,
Brian Bamford.
Not only did Bob Miller not reply to my letter above, but I didn't follow up on my promise to make the whole matter public.  Consequently, in December 2011 both the Northern Anarchists and Northern Voices were banned from the Manchester Anarchist Bookfair; when we later took this up with the organisers they dismissed our complaint.  The organisers of the Bookfair that year included 'David-under-the-pavement'; 'Veg'; Sally Hyman; Mike Ballard and Ron Marsden.  At that Bookfair more than 20 copies of Northern Voices were sold under the counter, and Charles Jepson sold our Spanish Civil War booklet on his International Brigade Memorial Trust stall. Martin Gilbert later tried to arrange a meeting between the conflicting parties but Sally Hymen, 'David-under-the-pavement' and Mike Ballard refused to meet with the Northern Anarchist Network.  What then happened at the London and Manchester Bookfairs in 2012 is well documented, but not so well known is that Andy at the Freedom Bookshop in Whitechapple High Street, took Northern Voices off the shelf at the request of Nick Heath of the Anarchist Federation siting the claim that N.V.13 was in poor taste.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

New Year 2013: A Decade of Northern Voices

Sir Cyril Smith, David Hoffman, Sophie Lancaster, the Bookfair Attacks, the Free Press & the Campaign Against the Blacklist

THIS has been probably been the most successful in the ten-year history of Northern Voices.  It has been a year in which Northern Voices made a serious breakthrough by being at the forefront and making inroads into some main stream media stories such as the Cyril Smith revelations last November.  In November 2012, the Northern Voices' Blog for the first time had a monthly page-viewing public that went well into five figures. Partly the reason for this was our exposure of the issues surrounding Sir Cyril Smith on the 13th, November, at 2.30 pm on the day in which the Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk, gave his speech in the House of Commons at around 4 pm, in which we knew he would would accuse Sir Cyril of child sex abuse. Paul Waugh, a journalist from Rochdale, as agreed had run the story at 10.30 am on his own site at  . The Cyril Smith post of the 19th, September 2010, now has the largest number of page-viewings, and it was this post that triggered the events that ultimately led to the events in November 2012. Naturally Northern Voices was involved in some important spade work in this regard in so far as we helped to find two vital witnesses, who were abused as young lads in the 1960s, who were now for the first time willing to go on the record. On Monday, last week, one of these witnesses identified by Northern Voices had his first interview with the main solicitor dealing with the Cyril Smith abuse case.

Throughout the Autumn of 2012, after the exposure of Jimmy Savile in the main stream media, the Northern Voices' Blog linked the cases of Jimmy Savile and Cyril Smith in several postings. All of these posts scored well in terms of page-views. And yet, when the Cyril Smith case is examined in depth historically there are so many loose ends that lead in political and sociological directions to issues of power; such as the relationship between institutions and elites that may be involved either directly or indirectly: our printed publication Northern Voices No.8 ran a story in 2007 entitled 'Was Cyril Smith Set Up?: Rochdale MP in Seventies Sex Scandal'. In Southern Europe political corruption is often more blatant and less furtive than it appears to be in England, but some aspects of the Cyril Smith case seem to suggest curious glimpses of political networking that operated beneath the surface of respectable political live.

In 2012, our N.V. page-views as whole almost tripled. The attack by the free-lance photographer, David Hoffman, on Freedom Press, in which he alleged the publisher had breach his copyright led to several posts that scored highly on the N.V. Blog. Our approach was to defend Freedom from the Hoffman claim for damages, because it seemed to us to threaten the freedom of minority publications to publish material and David Hoffman seemed to making a living out of demanding fees from publications that may have inadvertently used his photos.

The year had begun with a debate with Dave Douglass on the N.V. Blog about Libya and NATO involvement, which Barry Woodling had originally introduced by at the Northern Anarchist Network Conference in Newcastle in November 2011. Barry followed this up with an interview in NV13 with Azeldin-El-Sharif, the Chair of the British Libyan Solidarity Campaign. The NV13 issue included a piece in the Tameside Eye column about Kieran Quinn and the Labour controlled Tameside Council flagrant awarding of contracts to the company that blacklists building workers – Carillion. Since Hull MBC has now banned companies guilty of blacklisting from putting in tenders, MPs are being urged by Unite to sign the Early Day Motion on Blacklisting, and the likelihood that a motion will be on the agenda at the coming North West TUC Conference in Manchester in March, Northern Voices' feels that its decade-long campaign with the Manchester electricians has been entirely justified. Northern Voices No.13 reported on Tameside Trade Union Council's success in getting Tameside MBC to award a Blue Plaque to the local Spanish Civil War volunteer who died fighting Fascism in Spain in March 1938.  The interview with Sophie Lancaster's mother, Sylvia, as a leading article in N.V.13, gained the journal much support especially at the showing of the play 'Black Roses' at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, when we had to have a special reprint of the publication.  Sophie Lancaster was a 'Goth Girl' from Bacup in Lancashire, who was murdered in 2007 for dressing differently.

The attacks on Northern Voices' supporters at bookfairs in October in London and December in Manchester by members of a minority political body, the Anarchist Federation, has only served to stimulate interest in the N.V. publication and its Blog.  The journal is certainly better known now nationally than at any other time in its ten-years of life, and this is largely owing to the efforts of Sally Hymen/ Miller and her friend the Anarchist Federation groupie, Ron Marsden, who now does voluntary work for Alex McFadden at the Salford Unemployed Centre.  Northern Voices was also banned at Touchstones' Museum bookshop in Rochdale, because of an attack in the last issue by Debbie Firth, of the protest group Touchstones' Challenge, on the Link4Life company that runs the Museum.

Northern Anarchist Statement to the Movement: update with extra signatures that has now been banned by FREEDOM

THE Northern Anarchist Network (NAN) meeting in Burnley on the 8th, December, unreservedly condemns the treatment handed out to NAN supporter, Barry Woodling, at the Manchester Anarchist Bookfair on the 1st, December, 2012. He was subjected to intimidation, threats, and verbal abuse at the hands of one of the organisers called 'Veg' assisted by Anarchist Federation members, including Nick Heath. In addition to being harangued as an 'imbecile', a 'dullard', and a 'fucking disgrace', he was accused of being an 'anti-semite'. Barry was subsequently thrown out of the bookfair. Such a monstrous charge beggar's belief in view of his Jewish roots, and the murder of a member of his family in the Nazi Gas Chambers in the 1940s. 

We thus call upon the organisers of the bookfair, and the Anarchist Federation to unreservedly apologise for their authoritarian actions, and to offer a guarantee that there will be no repetition of this in future. It seems that the Anarchist Federation and the Bookfair organisers are doing the State's work for them by attacking the NAN and its supporters.

The following 103 people have now agreed to have their names added to the list supporting the above statement. Not all of these are anarchists, and most were not in attendance at the Northern Anarchist Network meeting at which the decision was made to make this declaration supporting Barry Woodling.  It is a declaration that any decent person may sign. These are the signatures so far: 

Mark Brooks (Little Hulton, Salford); John Walker, former editor of the Rochdale Alternative Paper and now part-time correspondent on Private Eye (Forest Gate, London); Lee Brooks (Malborough in Derbyshire); Patricia Culpan (Rochdale); Paul Arnold (Manchester); Kevin Brenan (Bristol), Stacy Bluer (Salford), Mariam Shaw (Longsight), Donavan Pedelty (Wales); Trevor Bark (Northumbria); Grace Bamford (West Yorkshire); Basil Landau (Manchester); Neel Tiwana (Manchester); Sheilia Simpson (Manchester); Neil Donaldson (Shropshire); Diana Garcia (Manchester); Johnathan Davis (Manchester); Dan Fernandez (Manchester); Mingus (Manchester), Sal Choudhry (Manchester); Martin Hopwood (Manchester); Martin Gilbert (Cumbria); Barry Woodling (Swinton); John Simkin (Lancashire); Eileen Hall (Burnley); Deon Bamford (West Yorkshire); Duncan Ball (Shropshire); Ilyan Thomas (Wales); Jim Petty (Burnley); Laurens Otter (Shropshire); Brian Bamford (Rochdale); Chris Draper (York); Derek Pattison (Dukinfield, Greater Manchester); Joe O'Neil (Swinton South, Salford); Bob Crane (Bury); Yvonne Dodge (Radcliffe); Camilo Melara (Manchester); Johnathan Simcock (Derbyshire); Denise Bamford (Todmorden); Anna Jeffery (North Yorkshire); Adele Dodge (Radcliffe); Patrick Finnerty (Rochdale); Sean Dempsey (Bury); Dave Douglass (South Sheilds); Martin Bashford (York), Dave Chapple (Bridgewater), Chris Chilton (Bolton), Susan Reddington (Bolton), Elaine Cross (Bolton), Denis Pye (Bolton), Dameon Bamford (Todmorden); Dave Fogg (Manchester), Lydia Morrel (Manchester), Heike Gabernowitz (Manchester), David Hernandez (Manchester); Deyika Nzeribe (Manchester); Johnny Pratt (Manchester); Stefano Ba (Manchester); Carmen Perugia (Manchester); Jenny Longworth (Manchester); Joseph Stacey (Manchester); Herman St John (Manchester); Sarah Redman (Manchester); Nadja Redman (Manchester); Clifford C. Cawthorn (Manchester); Dr. Phoebe Moore (Manchester); Nicola Smith (Monton); Fred Coka (Manchester); Daniel Evans (Manchester); Page Cleasby (Manchester); Jean Compton (Bolton); Janette Cosgrove (Bolton); Steve Harrold (Bolton); Graham Marsden (Bolton); Barry Mills (Bolton); Roy Ratcliffe (Leigh); Heide Connell (Manchester); Mike Koefman (Manchester): Ann Papageorgiou (Stockport); Phillip Gilligan (Rochdale): Rae Street (Littleborough, Lancs.): Ann Joran (Manchester): George Abenstern (Rochdale): Angela Trikic (Manchester); Maya Grana (Manchester): Natalia Grana (Manchester); Edward Egan (Hale Barns, Cheshire); Jacqui Burke (Oldham); Cath Tributsch (Bury); Pat Sanchez (Rochdale); Malcolm Pittock (Bolton); Chris Cole (Oxford);

CARLOS ANTONIO FIGUEROA LILLO (MADRID, Spain), John Lawrence (Oman), Seamus Cain (USA);  Rachel Whittaker (Republic of Ireland); Kanjana Damrongsaksit (Thailand); Bitrous Yohanna (Nigeria); Adama Yussuf (Nigeria); Cyril Wosu (Nigeria); Prof. Peter Buse (CANADA) Ana Lucia (Guatemala).

Donald Rooum, the veteran anarchist cartoonist long associated with Freedom Press in London, expressed his personal support for the spirit of the statement in so far as it represented a call for civil liberties and a more inclusive approach, but indicated that he wished to find out more. Others, particularly some associated with Bristol Radical History Group have also expressed their concern and offered to mediate. Up until now mediation has proved impossible.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Blacklisting Motion to London Assembly

This Assembly notes that links between the shameful and unlawful practice of blacklisting and Crossrail’s industrial relations manager, Ron Barron, risk tarnishing the integrity of this taxpayer-funded project.
To illustrate just how widespread blacklisting in the construction industry is, in February 2009 the Information Commissioner’s officials raided the offices of ‘The Consulting Association’, a firm operating a blacklist containing the names of thousands of construction workers[1]. Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Amec, Skanska, Taylor Woodrow, Sir Robert McAlpine (the Olympic Stadium contractor), and over thirty other construction companies used the Consulting Association database, which contained information about construction workers’ personal relationships, trade union activity, and employment history[2]. The Observer reported on 29 July 2012 that “records suggest McAlpine alone spent £28,000 on checks”[3], and that “Eighty-six men are suing Sir Robert McAlpine for £17m in lost earnings[4]”.

The Observer later reported on 2 December 2012 that “Ron Barron…cross-checked job applicants against a secret list of workers to be barred from the industry…introduced the use of the blacklist at his former employer, the construction firm CB&I, and referred to it more than 900 times in 2007 alone.”[5].

This Assembly notes that the Chief Executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation has partially addressed concerns about the issue of blacklisting on the Olympic Park and other ODA projects. However, the Assembly awaits with interest the response of the Information Commissioner’s Office regarding whether any ODA Tier 1 contractors carried out checks through the Consulting Association.

Given Dennis Hone’s “regret” that concerns regarding blacklisting on the Olympics have been raised after project completion, this Assembly calls upon the Mayor to provide evidence of steps taken to ensure that no blacklisting is, or has, taken place on Crossrail, a project that London taxpayers and the GLA, via TfL, are heavily invested in.

Crossrail is currently London’s biggest infrastructure project, costing £15billion, and it is deeply concerning that 28 workers were allegedly removed from this project after safety issues were raised. Given these concerns, the Assembly also calls on the Mayor to disassociate himself from such practices and, in addition, emphasise that every employee must be protected in raising health and safety concerns without fear of reprisals.

You can watch the debate live from approx 11:30am on this link:

Banned '... with what I believe are best interests of "Freedom" in mind,' ' says Editor

As Historic Anarchist Journal Succumbs to Blackmail

YESTERDAY FREEDOM, the anarchist journal founded over 125 years ago by the geologist and scientist Peter Kropotkin, effectively declared itself intellectually and morally bankrupt when its new editor, Matthew, changed his mind about the inclusion of a statement from the Northern Anarchist Network, and e-mailed Northern Voices to say:

'I am sure that you are aware from Donald's (Rooum) e-mail (see below) about the discussions we have been having re the inclusion of your 'Statement to the movement' in Freedom. Although I had some basic prior knowledge of the issues, I was not fully aware of the problems that publishing the document may lead to. In retrospect I naively, and with honest intentions agreed to include the statement.  Following further discussion and debate within the wider collective, I have now decided against its inclusion. I understand that you will no doubt be unhappy at this decision, but I can assure you that the decision was not made in haste, and was done with what I believe are the best interests of 'Freedom' in mind, and without any 'taking of sides'... (I have never to my knowledge) met yourself, Bob Miller, his family, Barry Woodling, or Nick Heath).'

Just over a week ago on Monday 7th, January 2013, the same editor of FREEDOM, Matthew, e-mailed Northern Voices to inform us of his decision to publish what has come to be called 'The Burnley Declaration', drafted by Barry Woodling, agreed by the Northern Anarchist Network on the 8th, December 2012, and now supported by some sixty individuals.  Matthew's 7th, January e-mail was as follows:

'I am just letting you know that your statement will be appearing in the Jan issue of the paper. I am a bit behind schedule at the moment, but would expect it to be ready to print in a week - ten days from now. I also wanted you to know that in the interests of fairness /not taking sides, I have contacted the anarchist federation and asked them whether they would like to write a response to your statement. If they choose to respond then that would also be included in the same issue.'

This was Matthew's first instinctive and sensible response to Northern Voices, which had already published the Burnley Declaration on its own Blog.  Matthew then properly did has he promised and sent the Burnley Declaration to the Anarchist Federation for them to comment and to respond to its content.  The Anarchist Federation is a body of about 100 members nationally.  We do not know the precise details of the reply from the Federation to FREEDOM, that has yet to made public, but last Thursday Northern Voices' received an e-mail from Donald Rooum, a veteran on the FREEDOM Collective, the relevant excepts we publish here:

'Poor Matthew. Just been appointed editor of Freedom, and already faced with this controversy. He circulated the collective asking for views on whether your letter should appear, and got a nasty letter from Nick Heath saying if your letter was published, he would withdraw co-operation, including his offer of a book.  You already know my opinion. If I take sides at all in the quarrel between Norther Voices and Anarchist Federation, I am on the side of NV. But I am against the publication of your letter in Freedom...  Freedom is a propaganda sheet, aimed at the general public, hoping to convince people of the anarchist point of view. Any fracas within the movement should stay within the movement, in internal newsletters and bulletins.  Regardless of Nick Heath's threats, I ask you to withdraw your letter. Not all publicity is good publicity.' 

To which I, on behalf of Northern Voices, replied as follows:

'Much as I respect your views and the implied wisdom of your intention, I can't consider withdrawing this statement because it strikes at everything I believe is most important to anarchism: civil liberty and the right to free expression. The Burnley NAN declaration has now been signed by well over 50 individuals from a wide spectrum both within the anarchist movement and outside it by people who believe in decent behaviour.  You ought to understand that this last incident is not unique and there has been a long history of attacks both on members of the NAN, and by people who have approached the sales outlets of Northern Voices with bad intent together with threats of legal action against the small company who do our printing. Only last January we made approaches to some of these people to meet with us to try to resolve their problems; it came to nothing. In November, the page-viewings on our NV Blog exceeded 11,000 and the readership of Northern Voices is probably in the thousands, though most are probably not anarchists. But even if we only reached a handful of readers the principle would still be the same as the view taken by George Orwell in Tribune in 1945, when he wrote his essay 'Freedom of the Park' about the arrest of a Freedom paper seller at Hyde Park: at that time he took the view that this kind of thing should cause 'more public clamour than a flutter in the minority press'.  I believe that the best thing the minority press can do in this situation is to uphold the freedom of the press.  If this gets into the mainstream media, so be it, it is a matter too precious to hide under the carpet. To be honest though, we are fighting for our very existence against people who are trying to put us out of business.'

In the interests of justice and transparency, I believe that FREEDOM ought to publish the contents of all the communications sent to FREEDOM from Nick Heath and the Anarchist Federation.  What we have here is an authoritarian and conspiratorial body, the Anarchist Federation under Nick Heath, which is both demanding and getting immunity from criticism whatever it does, and an 'independent anarchist' publication FREEDOM which is now succumbing to blackmail, and paying protection to Mr. Heath, who's feeble-minded philosophy appears to be based on blackmail, bullying and threats.   To ignore these practices, and protect those who use them from criticism, is merely to encourage a form of irresponsibility and authoritarian methods, which merely reacts violently to the agenda set by others; whether it be the establishment, the government or even to Northern Voices, or anyone else they don't take a shine to. 

Monday, 14 January 2013

Hull City Council Blacklists' blacklisting construction companies!

The  city council in Hull, recently took the decision to refuse to award public contracts to the 44 construction firms who were implicated with the secretive blacklisting organisation known as the Consulting Association, which was closed down by the Information Commissioners Office, following a raid in 2009. According to the 'Daily Mirror' newspaper, the decision to refuse these company's contracts, was voted through unanimously by members of the council.

Thousands of construction workers have had their working careers wrecked after their names appeared on the illegal blacklist which was operated by the Consulting Association which was set up and operated by 44 British major construction companies, who continue to be awarded public-sector taxpayer funded contracts, despite their nefarious activities. Ian Kerr, who ran the organisation from an office in Droitwich, was fined £5000 after pleading guilty to breaching the Data Protection Act and sharing information illegally, with these companies which included household names like Carillion, and Sir Robert McAlpine construction, who are now facing legal action for "tort of unlawful conspiracy" in the High Court. Kerr, who died recently after giving evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee who are investigating blacklisting in employment, implicated a number of leading company's and industrialists including Sir Robert McAlpine construction, (who paid his legal cost and fine after his conviction), in the blacklisting scandal.

Dave Smith, a former trade union safety representative and blacklisting victim, welcomed the decision by Hull City Council and told the newspaper:

"The major construction firms who used the blacklist, systematically breached the human rights of thousands of workers whose only crime was to raise concerns about safety or join a trade union. As profits are the only thing that blacklisting companies are interested in, perhaps losing publicly funded projects will make them own up to their responsibilities."

We understand that Salford City Council are also planning to take similar action against companies known to have been involved with the Consulting Association.

McAlpine's in denial on Blacklist!

McAlpine denies high court claim it had major role in 'blacklist scandal' - from yesterday's  Observer

Ian Kerr died last month shortly after giving evidence to the parliamentary committee. Construction firm Sir Robert McAlpine played a central role in a "conspiracy to blacklist" 3,300 people from working on Britain's major building projects, according to a multimillion-pound high court claim against the firm.

Executives at the company, including Cullum McAlpine, a director and member of its founding family, were allegedly "intimately" involved in the operation of a "clandestine" organisation holding a list of people barred from the industry.

McAlpine was in communication with Ian Kerr, the director of the Consulting Association (TCA), the organisation which held the list on behalf of construction firms, up until it was dissolved, it is alleged.

It is further claimed that Kerr, when he was exposed and prosecuted in 2009, was warned of possible commercial repercussions for Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd if Cullum McAlpine's name emerged in public.
The claims, which are disputed, are contained within legal documents lodged at the high court last Monday by Sir Hugh Tomlinson QC, the barrister acting for 81 alleged victims of the "blacklist" run between 1993 and 2009, who has represented victims of phone hacking by the News of the World.

Workers allege that TCA, funded by around 20 major names in the construction industry, ran a database of names for the industry for more than 30 years. It was seized more than three years ago, but the extraordinary nature of the information held only fully emerged following an employment tribunal against a different construction firm last year for one of the victims, Dave Smith, 46, an engineer who had a 36-page file against his name and was victimised for highlighting safety hazards on sites.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said at Smith's tribunal that it believed some of the information held by the covert organisation and accessible to companies that subscribed to the service "could only have been supplied by the police or the security services". 

The information contained within the TCA database related to the trade union activity of various workers in the construction industry, according to the legal claim. It allegedly included detail on industrial action, political views and affiliation, and membership of unions. 

The legal document alleges: "Some entries were made because workers had made complaints about matters relating to health and safety. The files regularly included recommendations as to whether an individual should be employed. Typical entries were in terms such as 'Do not employ and 'Above not recommended by Amicus'." 

It is further alleged that the database was run secretly, and that measures were taken to keep it clandestine. 

And it is claimed that Sir Robert McAlpine, and in particular Cullum McAlpine, a relative of the former Tory chairman Lord McAlpine, had a central role in the establishment and operation of TCA. It claims: "[Cullum] McAlpine was the founding chairman at the organisation's inception in 1993. He was intimately involved in the foundation and operation of TCA. He formally offered Mr Kerr the position of director in August 1993. He finalised the written particulars of Mr Kerr's employment, sending them to members for approval and obtaining legal advice in relation to them. He oversaw the arrangement of life and health insurance for Mr Kerr as part of his remuneration." 
It further alleges that when the database was exposed and Kerr was prosecuted by the ICO in 2009 he was warned that if McAlpine's name was mentioned, the company "might encounter serious difficulty in obtaining major construction contracts".

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Blacklist Late News

1. The High Court battle between blacklisted workers and Sir Robert McAlpine drew a step closer this week as the particulars of claim were presented to the High Court in London.

2. UCATT has sent out letters to hundreds of members whose names appear on the blacklist. GMB has done the same and no doubt UNITE will soon be doing the same with their members as well. This is after the unions won a concession from the Information Commissioner's Office to allow them to check their membership lists against the Consulting Association blacklist database.

3. Hull City Council has voted unanimously to debarr blacklisting firms from any publicly funded contracts in the local authority.

i)  There is also a rumour that Salford MBC is doing the same as Hull MBC. 

ii)  Greater Manchester County Association TUCs discussed the possibility this morning of placing an amendment on blacklisting on the agenda of the North West TUCs Conference.   

Friday, 11 January 2013

Sixteen-year-old Bury Apprentice Dies!

Greater Manchester Hazards Centre,
Windrush Millennium Centre,
70 Alexandra Road,
Manchester M16 7WD
Also Hazards Campaign Secretariat
and Families Against Corporate Killers: 
0161 636 7557
Greater Manchester Hazards Centre and Families Against Corporate Killers Statement
on the death of Cameron Minshull, 16, at an engineering company in Bury Thursday 10th January 2013

WE are so very sad for Cameron Minshull, who was only 16 years old when he was killed at an engineering company in Bury, where he had worked as an apprentice for only a matter of weeks. We would like to send our condolences to his family who are naturally devastated.

When anyone goes to work they should be safe from both immediate threat to life and to long term health, and we expect inexperienced apprentices and young workers to be protected by extra measures of supervision and care, as the law requires. We do not expect to send out child to work, to be a ‘striver;’ not a ‘skiver’, and for them to be killed at work and never come home. Until there has been a full investigation we do not know if this was a rare accident, something unforeseeable and unpreventable, or whether, like the over 80% of workplace deaths and injuries, it was due to a failure to manage health and safety properly.

Daily we are fed a press and media diet that health and safety at work is excessive, ‘gorn mad’ and echoing the government’s accusation that good health and safety is a ’burden on business’. It is false and it should concern us all. Every worker should be safe at work and come home alive and well, and especially our children who are young and inexperienced and need greater protection. But the government’s attacks on our hard won health and safety laws and their enforcement, which are intended to keep us safe, and the daily rubbishing of the value of health and safety, is in fact putting us all at much greater risk.
The Prime Minister spoke this year at the Media Factory 'enterprise hub' at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and cited health and safety regulations as one of the reasons behind a lower number of companies offering work experience placements, and told the audience this was “very, very bad news”. He said: “We need to encourage businesses to offer that work experience, we need to simplify health and safety rules, we need to say to schools, ‘every school should have a plan for how you are going to teach children about enterprise and business’.”

We suggest that before the Prime Minister mistakenly labels health and safety rules too burdensome, he looks at the facts: over the last decade, at least 5 under 19s have been killed each year and up to 5,000 seriously injured at work. This is not due to too much, but too little health and safety. I would ask him whether he would send his own children to work in workplaces which his government has now falsely classified as ‘low risk’ such as manufacturing and engineering, and exempted them from preventative inspections, and especially those which are following his explicit advice, to treat H&S less seriously and not to bother about “dotting all the i’s and crossing the t’s”.

The truth is that good health and safety saves lives and money for employers while bad health and safety is a terrible burden on those killed or injured and made ill, and on their families. We must stop the government rolling back the laws and enforcement that prevents our children being killed at work. No-one should die simply for going to work to earn a living, and especially not a 16 year old with his whole life ahead of him. Rest in peace Cameron and much love and sympathy to his family who now have to live without him.

For more information contact Hilda Palmer 0161 636 7557 or 079298 00240 

Hilda Palmer:  Co-ordinator of Greater Manchester Hazards Centre and Facilitator of Families Against Corporate Killers

Thursday, 10 January 2013

A Year in Blacklisting

Electricians take industrial action in Scotland, Wales, North East, North West and London to make blacklisting a central issue of the ongoing BESNA dispute.

Reel News release Blacklisted 2012 video. 

Smith v Carillion Employment Tribunal – 400 pages of unredacted documents come into the public domain after being used as evidence in the court case. The company provide a written statement admitting that their managers supplied the information on the blacklist file because of union activity and for raising safety concerns. ICO admit in evidence that “information on some blacklist files could only have been supplied by the police or the security services”. Carillion win the Tribunal because worker was employed via an agency and not directly employed by the blacklisting firms.

First ever joint legal meeting to discuss blacklisting arranged by the Blacklist Support Group takes place at Old Square Chambers co-chaired by Professor Keith Ewing and John Hendy QC – over 20 QCs, barristers and solicitors discuss High Court, European Court of Human Rights and Employment Tribunal strategies. 

John McDonnell MP demands a public inquiry into blacklisting following evidence about security services involvement.

Professor Charles Woolfson announces he was blacklisted for raising concerns about safety issues in the North Sea after the Piper Alpha disaster.

Guney Clark & Ryan solicitors start High Court proceedings on behalf of blacklisted workers by issuing pre-action letters.

300 electricians carrying “End the Blacklist” banners blockade Park Lane rush-hour traffic outside ECA awards dinner as part of the increasingly hostile sparks dispute. Ken Livingstone (speaker at the event) tells the crowd that blacklisting firms should not be granted publicly funded contracts. The very next day lead blacklisting firm Balfour Beatty withdraw from BESNA. Electricians now target blacklisting firm NG Bailey at Morrison supermarkets across the UK. A few days later the entire BESNA proposals collapse - Victory to the sparks!!

The Observer newspaper runs front page lead article on police link to blacklist. Steve Hedley (RMT Assistant General Secretary) is featured in 3-page spread.

Blacklisting appears across the press including Radio 2 Jeremy Vine phone-in plus media coverage in the USA, Russia and Australia.

John McDonnell MP and Michael Meacher MP both raise the call for a public inquiry with Home Secretary, Teresa May.

Tony Jones blacklisting Employment Tribunal takes place in Manchester against Carillion and their recruitment agency SkyBlue, Crown House, Emcor, Phoenix and the employment agency Beaver Management. Steve Acheson blacklisting claim ET against Data Dimension takes place on the same day in the courtroom next door. Both cases are supported by UNITE the Union.

Blacklist Support Group holds meetings in Manchester and Westminster parliament.

Guney Clark & Ryan solicitors submit papers for High Court claim against blacklisting firms.

David Cameron forced to respond to John McDonnell MP questioning about blacklisting at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Glenis Willmott MEP (Labour leader in Europe) raises issue of blacklisting in written question to European Commission.

Judge Brain written decision throws out Tony Jones ET case for being “out of time” as the blacklisting incidents took place many years ago (even though evidence only came to light once the blacklist files were released). 

Carillion under fire from GMB at Swindon Hospital as Liz Keates, head of Human Resources and part of the cover-up of bullying, racism and corruption charges by 100 low-paid Goan NHS staff is outed as a blacklister of union members.

Scottish Affairs Select Committee chaired by Ian Davidson MP launches parliamentary investigation into blacklisting at Westminster – Maria Fyfe MP is first witness with historical examples from the campaign against the Economic League in the 1980s.

UCATT Conference passes motion on blacklisting calling for a public inquiry and tougher laws. Roy Bentham, Steve Acheson and Tony O’Brien speak about blacklisting at Construction Safety Campaign and Justice for Shrewsbury Pickets fringe meetings. 

600 construction workers walk out at Ratcliffe Power Station in Nottingham in solidarity with Jason Poulter, victimised safety rep and leading UNITE activist during the BESNA dispute. Jason Poulter is reinstated the next day!!

GMB Conference launches a major report “BLACKLISTING - illegal corporate bullying endemic, systemic and deep-rooted in Carillion and other companies" and passes a motion on blacklisting calling for a public inquiry and blacklisting firms to be stripped of publicly funded contracts. Swindon strikers and Blacklist Support Group speak at official fringe meeting.

Steve Acheson moves successful motion at UNITE Conference calling for industrial action, a public inquiry and Day of Action against blacklisting. Steve Kelly, Steve Acheson and Dave Smith speak at fringe meetings. 

National Shop Steward Network conference runs a workshop on blacklisting.

Steuart Merchant, Francie Graham and Dave Smith give evidence at Scottish Affairs Select Committee. 10 Directors and senior managers who participated in blacklisting named and shamed. Press coverage includes Private Eye, The Mirror, The Guardian.

Trade Union Coordinating Group of MPs Tollpuddle event in parliament featured blacklisting with Bob Crow, John Hendy QC, Ian Murray MP and Dennis Skinner.

Tommy Sheridan MSP announces that the Consulting Association spied on him for 14 years when he was an elected politician in Scotland.

Official complaint made to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) for an investigation into blacklisting by their members in the construction industry in breach of the professional body’s new Code of Conduct.

Tollpuddle Festival saw Blacklist Support Group banner marching alongside the Swindon strikers and BSG speakers at fringe stage alongside barrister David Renton.

European Commission announces that blacklisting of safety reps will be part of a review of safety taking place in the European parliament.

Senior journalist and NEC member of NUJ announces that she has a blacklist file compiled by the Consulting Association.

High Court claim against Sir Robert McAlpine is formally lodged. The Observer newspaper run major article with a Comment piece by Nick Cohen. Press speculate that the entire claim if all blacklisted workers were involved could reach £600m.

Union News produce DVD with lessons of the Sparks dispute video (blacklisting included).

Jim Sheridan MP calls for blacklisting firms to be barred from publicly funded projects as he joins Colin Trousdale, Willie Black and other blacklisted workers protesting outside Balfour Beatty Engineering Services HQ in Glasgow against the victimisation of UNITE union activist Stewart Hume.

Human Rights campaign group Liberty calls on the Information Commissioner’s Office to re-open its inquiry into blacklisting.

Howard Shiplee of blacklisting firm Laing O'Rourke is appointed to the Board of the Health & Safety Executive.

Spanish press pick up blacklisting story.

Drew Smith MSP (Labour) and Christina McKelvie MSP (SNP) raise blacklisting in Scottish parliament.

Gail Cartmail (UNITE) and Justin Bowden & Harry Donaldson (GMB) give evidence at Select Committee investigation and stick the boot into Balfour Beatty and Carillion as examples of continuing blacklisting.

TUC Congress unanimously passes motion calling for a public inquiry and national Day of Action on blacklisting. GMB, UNITE, TSSA, UCATT speak in the debate. Blacklist Support Group speaks at TUC fringe meetings alongside Frances O’Grady.

Workers at Grangemouth Oil Refinery in Scotland threaten strike action over ongoing blacklisting and Stewart Hume is miraculously reinstated by Balfour Beatty!!

Crossrail mass picket barricades site entrance after 28 UNITE members are dismissed when their electrical firm has its contract cut short 3 years early in a blatant attempt to blacklist union steward Frank Morris after reps raised safety concerns. The BFK consortium building Crossrail (largest construction project in Europe) includes BAM and Kier – both proven blacklisters.

GMB organise blacklist protest at Carillion trade stall at Labour Party Conference. 
Blacklisting protesters close Tottenham Court Road and Moorgate during rush hour as part of ongoing Crossrail dispute. Protesters occupy the Office of Rail Regulator (public body responsible for rail safety) after HSE halt production on site following major gantry collapse on Crossrail site where safety reps have been blacklisted.

The Information Commissioner's Office gave evidence at the Select Committee and admit that they had only seized 5-10% of the documents held by the Consulting Association.

Financial Times run major story on blacklisting.

Steve Rotheram MP puts down an Early Day Motion 609 calling for a Leveson style public inquiry into blacklisting.

Richard Howson – Carillion Chief Executive - under pressure, issues a carefully worded statement to the Select Committee denying any involvement in blacklist except by a small subsidiary, Crown House which stopped in 2006. Blacklist Support Group and GMB refute the claims.

Steve Murphy (UCATT Gen Sec) & Jim Kennedy (UCATT) give evidence to the Select Committee, exposing Sir Robert McAlpine and Skanska for blacklisting on the Olympics stadium and media centre. McAlpine alone were being invoiced for 65 name checks a day during the mass recruitment stage of the project.

Christian Khan solicitors working on behalf of the Blacklist Support Group submit a formal complaint to the IPCC about police collusion with blacklisting.

Blacklisting meeting takes place at STUC in Glasgow.

The release of unredacted documents for the High Court claim identify a number of union officials as the source of information on the blacklist files. Blacklisted workers including Brian Higgins and Michael Anderson demand an investigation.

Alan Wainwright – ex-Carillion director turned whistleblower gives evidence to the Select Committee and names 12 Directors and senior managers in Carillion Group personally involved in blacklisting. Sheila Knight ex-Assistant Director of ACAS is named as blacklisting union members who worked on the Jubilee Line Extension.

ICO admit returning the Consulting Association seized computer without even turning it on.

Oxford Street closed by protesters in support of unite steward Frank Morris blacklisted by Crossrail as part of the November 14 EU wide union day of action. 

Blacklist Support Group short-listed for Human Rights Campaign of the Year at the Liberty Awards ceremony.

Paul Kenny (GMB Gen Sec) sends letter to every labour Councillor in the UK asking them to support campaign to bar blacklisting firms from public contracts. Local Authorities across the country vote to support the campaign.

Ian Kerr – chief executive of the Consulting Association and convicted blacklister gives 4 hours of unrepentant evidence at the Select Committee. Names dozens of senior executives and admits that major blacklisting took place on the Olympics and Crossrail project. Sir Robert McAlpine paid his County Court fine! Agrees to supply a full written statement naming all those senior managers that attended blacklisting meetings.

Ron Baron, head of industrial relations at Crossrail is sacked following Ian Kerr evidence and Building Magazine article exposing him as a serial blacklister having been named in previous Employment Tribunal judgements. UNITE demand an investigation into blacklisting on Crossrail.

December:Seamus Milne writes major article in The Guardian calling for a Leveson style public inquiry.

Shami Chakrabarti compares blacklisting to phone hacking on Andrew Marr TV show.

Health & Safety Executive issue a statement against blacklisting of safety reps following request by Paul Kenny.
Ian Kerr – chief executive of the Consulting Association dies.

Crossrail worker suffers 70% burns following explosion – site is closed for safety reasons. Protesters close down Horseferry Road outside the Department of Transport demanding action over safety and blacklisting on Crossrail. Boris Johnson announces plan to investigate safety issues on Crossrail. 

Steve Acheson reaches 5th year protesting outside Fiddlers Ferry Power Station near Warrington following his dismissal from site because of the blacklist. 

2013:  The fight for justice continues