Friday, 22 November 2013

Blacklist Support Group Report

1. TUC Day of Action on Blacklisting Round of Applause to everyone who participated in the Blacklisting Day of Action on November 20th. There were protests, occupations, road blockades and lobbies of parliament across the UK - too many to mention them all. It worked so much better by having dozens of genuine grass roots events rather than one single official protest in London. Loads of blacklisted workers got on the radio, TV plus national & local newspapers. So whether your event was two people giving out flyers or hundreds blockading the main road outside the Houses of Parliamen - Thank You. Thank you to John McDonnell MP, Jim Sheridan MP, Ian Davidson MP and Neil Findlay MSP for chairing meetings for blacklisted workers in the Westminster and Scottish parliaments. Both Ed Milliband and Chuka Umunna MP - pledged an inquiry from the next Labour government - Blacklisted workers want a fully independent public inquiry. If anyone has any reports, photos, TV clips or videos of protests - please post to the Blacklist Support Group facebook page or else share on social media with the hashtags #blacklisting #N20 #BSG Special mention of the Leeds protest where two blacklisted workers, Pete Shaw and Sandy MacPherson were both assaulted by an aggressive security guard in an unprovoked attack at Sir Robert McAlpine offices. Despite being battered and hospitalised - both Pete and Sandy are now both OK. Pix of day of Action: Video: 2. High Court Claims: On the Day of Action UNITE and UCATT both announced their intention of taking High Court claims on behalf of their members. This brings the number of High Court claims to four in total. The GMB have already submitted their claim earlier in the summer and the lead claim by Guney Clark & Ryan (GCR) solicitors, supported by the Blacklist Support Group has been running for over 4 years now. The first ever hearing in a High Court blacklisting claim will be the GCR case on Friday 29th November. This will be a hearing to determine how the cases will be run, what are the main legal points to be argued etc.. It is likely that there will be a court order that says that all 4 High Court cases will be heard at the same time. They would remain 4 separate claims, with 4 separate legal teams representing different clients but there would only be one physical court case. The Blacklist Support Group will be holding a protest outside the High Court in the Strand on Friday 29th November. Everyone welcome. If you have a BLACKLISTED T-shirts, please bring it along to wear for the photo-opportunity. 3. Scottish Government announcement: On the Day of Action the Scottish government published plans to refuse public contracts to blacklisting firms. This step has only came about because of the fantastic campaigning by the Scottish blacklisted workers. 4. Blacklist Compensation Scheme: The latest update on the blacklist compensation scheme is that all 3 unions and the BSG have sent a joint letter making it clear that the compensation scheme is not acceptable to blacklisted workers. Whilst everyone thinks an industry funded compensation scheme is a good idea, the present proposals are simply a PR stunt intended to deflect attention away from the High Court claims or even an attempt to delay the legal process altogether. We are prepared to negotiate with the scheme but do not intend to pause any of our legal claims for something that in its current state is worthless. The various legal teams including Guney, Clark & Ryan solicitors are also in discussions with the compensation scheme. Our red lines are: Everyone on the Consulting Association blacklist to be compensated Jobs for blacklisted workers on major projects - including costs for retraining if needed Compensation to fully represent the loss of earnings and severity of the human rights violations No Gagging Clause - we still want a full public inquiry Even if some blacklisted workers are only interested in financial compensation - BSG advice is to have nothing to do with the employers blacklist compensation scheme - because the final offers they make will be massively better than the insulting £1000 they expect to give to most people at the moment. 5. Information Commissioner's Office announcement: After 4 and a half years, the ICO has finally decided to do what they should have done in the very first week of seizing the files and send a letter to everyone with a blacklist file where they have a name, address or national Insurance number. This means another 1200 letters should be sent out in the next few weeks and many more workers will receive their files. The ICO letter directs people to the employers blacklisting compensation scheme: the very people who blacklisted them in the first place. This beggars belief. The ICO has not taken legal action against a single blacklisting firm despite mountains of documentary evidence that they have broken the law. And now they are directing the victims of crime to the perpetrators of the crime. The fact that the ICO is willing to direct victims to the firms but not to the Blacklist Support Group which has led the campaign for justice and acts as a support network for blacklisted workers speaks volumes. It is an outrage and calls into question the supposed impartiality of the ICO. 6. The government has announced an inquiry into the leverage tactics used by UNITE the Union in various industrial disputes including Crossrail, BESNA and Grangemouth. Blacklist Support Group are proud supporters of using leverage as part of a strategy combined with rank & file action to put pressure on rogue employers to negotiate. Leverage works - it helped us win the reinstatement of Frank Morris on Crossrail. As part of the so called inquiry into industrial disputes, it was announced that the practice of blacklisting will be looked at. Steve Kelly - co-chair Blacklist Support Group & UNITE branch secretary said: 'The Tory proposals are nothing more than an anti-union witch hunt masquerading as an inquiry. To equate the blacklist scandal with Unites leverage campaign exposes the government's entire attitude towards organised labour. Blacklisting is a human right conspiracy involving multinational firms and the state. Leverage is perfectly legal protest with a giant inflatable rat. Blacklisted workers refuse to participate with this reactionary election stunt and no principled trade unionist should collaborate in our name.' 7. George Tapp - working class hero: George Tapp - a leading blacklist campaigners was run down by a motorist, dragged 100 yards down a road and suffered two fractured knees at a protest in Manchester earlier this year. George spent many weeks in hospital undergoing reconstructive surgery but is now walking again and is now back protesting against the blacklist again. An inspiration to us all. Despite Greater Manchester Police initially blaming George himself for the incident, the driver of the vehicle is now facing criminal charges and will appear in court in the next few months. Watch this space. 8. Message below from construction rank & file national committee: National construction Rank and File meeting 12 noon - 3pm Saturday 23rd November Mechanics Institute, 103 Princes Street, Manchester M1 6DD Hopefully there will be a representative from GMB , Ucatt and Unite at the meeting please inform people about this meeting. All construction workers welcome. 9. Sorry if I have missed anything out - there is a lot going on at the moment Blacklist Support Group video: blog: facebook:

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