Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Carillion Accused on Human Rights Violations

TROUBLED construction giant Carillion face more allegations of human rights violations as part of the construction industry blacklisting scandal in a court case to be heard at the Employment Appeal Tribunal in Blackfriars on 12:00 Tuesday 26th Feb. If successful, the case would significantly extend the of the influence of the Human Rights Act remit into the area of employment law.

Case Reference:  D.R. Smith v (1) Carillion, (2) Carillion (JM) Ltd. (3) Schal International Managemen Ltd.

The human rights claims are made by engineer Dave Smith who was repeatedly dismissed and refused work once his name appeared on the illegal Consulting Association blacklist after he had raised concerns about asbestos, poor toilet facilities and contaminated waste on London and Essex building sites controlled by companies in the Carilion Group. Mr Smith is one of thousands of blacklisted construction workers who discovered he was on the construction blacklist for being a member of a trade union. Mr. Smith's blacklist file runs to 36 pages and includes his name, address, date of birth, NI number, car registration full works history, photographs and copies of his safety reps accreditation with the Schal office stamp on it. 

Carillion are to be grilled by MPs when they are called to give evidence to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigation into blacklisting in employment. The Select Committee has already heard evidence that Frank Duggan (ex-Group Personell Director for CarillionPLC), Liz Keates (current Head of HR at Carillion Health) and John Ball (ex-Head of HR at Carillion PLC) were all at various times the “main contact” between Carillion and the Consulting Association.

Mr Smith's file is only one of hundreds of files with entries referring to firms in the Carillion group including John Mowlem now trading as Carillion (JM) Ltd and Carillion's in house employment agency Sky Blue. The GMB union estimate that from October 1999 to April 2004 that Carillion checked at least 14,724 names, making the firm one of the bigger users of the blacklist at the time. Invoices and salesbook records show that Carillion paid £37,814.72 to the Consulting Association between 1999 and 2006 and its managers were still attending at meetings as late as 2008.

Mr. Smith's test-case Employment Tribunal in January 2012 gained notoriety when the companies admitted in court to blacklisting him because he was a trade union safety representative on their building sites but he still lost the case on the legal technicality that he was not directly employed by the companies but via an employment agency.  

John Hendy QC will argue that case should be allowed to continue to the next stage of the legal process because the original ET decision is in violation of the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights - Article 8 (the right to privacy) and Article 11 (the right to freedom of association). Human rights are supposed to apply to "everyone" but in UK employment law, apparently they only apply to direct employees. Mr Smith's legal team is arguing that existing UK law should be interpreted in such a way as to uphold human rights and therefore the tribunal should extend the legal protection to all "workers" and not just direct employees. 

Dave Smith said:
'I am taking this claim to highlight a major human rights scandal.  Honest trade union members were blacklisted for nothing more than raising concerns about safety issues or unpaid wages.  It is not illegal to be a member of a trade union - but it is illegal for big business to systematically breach an individuals human rights.  Carillion are a multi-national corporation and seem to think they are above the law.  For many years they played an active role in this secret conspiracy that MPs have described as a "National Scandal".  Blacklisted workers will continue to expose Carillion and the other blacklisting firms until we get the justice we deserve.' 

Carillion is already facing legal claims for corruption, bullying and racism by nearly 100 Swindon Hospital workers represented by the GMB union. It is believed that Carillion has lost publicly funded contracts with local authorities because of the fall-out from the blacklisting scandal.

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