Thursday, 29 August 2013

Whose in bed with the blacklisters? McAlpine dishes the dirt on blacklisting construction companies!

It’s often said there’s no room for sentiment in business and this undoubtedly applies in the dog-eat-dog world, of the British construction industry.

The construction giant Sir Robert McAlpine (SRM) are being sued by more than 100 workers who claim that their livelihoods and careers were destroyed when their names were placed on a blacklist operated on behalf of the construction industry by a shadowy and secretive organisation known as the Consulting Association (C.A.)

In 2009 the offices of the C.A., were raided and closed by staff from the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), who discovered that the C.A. had been operating a blacklist and an illegal database that contained the names of over 3,000 construction workers. Many of those on the blacklist were trade unionists and other ‘troublesome’ workers who had raised safety issues or taken an employer to an employment tribunal.

The original action brought by construction workers who were supported by the Blacklist Support Group (BSG), targeted SRM because it was believed the company had the worst record for blacklisting and was instrumental in setting up the C.A. But as part of their defence, SRM have now implicated other companies and have asked the court to include them as co-defendants in the action. They have named nine other major contractors who were responsible for running 34 other companies. SRM say that if they are found guilty of conspiracy to put together a blacklist aimed at preventing people from working as well as breaches of the Data Protection Act (DPA) – allegations that it denies – then the other named companies, Balfour Beatty, Skanska, Carillion, Costain, Laing O’ Rourke, Kier, Vinci Skanska, Amec and Bam, should also be found equally guilty.

In legal documents, SRM allege that both Balfour Beatty and Skanska adopted a particularly hard-line approach when it came to refusing to employ people who were on the list held by the C.A. The company says that other firms who were signed-up members of the C.A. were “more inclined than others” to refuse to give work to individuals on its books and adds, “It appears that the Balfour Beatty companies were particularly ‘hard-nosed’ and took a particularly hard-line in this regard compared to other members.” Skanska is accused by SRM of refusing to permit workers on its sites on approximately 103 occasions after it made enquiries with the C.A., about 127 workers.

With individual claims running from £10,000 up to £30,000, SRM could finish up having to pay out millions of pounds in damages if the workers claim is successful. In order to avoid this, SRM have dished the dirt on these other companies and they claim that should they be found guilty, these other companies should pay a contribution to any damages and costs awarded to the workers in proportions to be decided by the court.


Although many council’s are beginning to ban construction firms that had links to the C.A. from public contracts, some council’s such as the Labour council in Tameside,  Greater Manchester, have jumped into bed with the blacklisting construction company, Carillion, which now runs its estate and management facilities and as from next week, will take over all school catering in the borough.
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The current printed issue of NORTHERN VOICES No.14, is now available for sale - see below.   This issue N.V.14 also with an article about Tameside entitled 'Who is in bed with the blacklisters' and an interview with blacklisted electrician George Tapp can still be obtained by writing or contacting the people whose details are below:
Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included). Cheques made payable to 'Northern Voices' should be sent c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.
email: northernvoices@hotmail.com

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

'Boycott Workfare' disrupt Tory shysters at policy conference!




We have recently received a briefing from 'Boycott Workfare, which we are publishing in full.

"We haven't been in touch for a while, but loads of things have happened in the last few months. The action you take continues to push back workfare.

One scheme down!

The government wanted to make everyone finishing two years on the work programme do 6 months of workfare. But this plan had to be dropped - probably due to the difficulty in finding placements due to protest and pressure. It has however unfortunately been replaced by a sanctions obstacle course in the job centre for those returning. If you are returning back to the job centre after 2 years on the work programme then you can share your stories here.

A huge week of action in July

On the 9th-10th of July the workfare industry had a cosy little conference in Manchester... so we had a huge week of action instead. Not only was their fancy dinner at the Hilton picketed, but coincidentally we heard that their sleep was interrupted by up to 3 fire alarms throughout the night. 20 actions took place across the country with Marks & Spencer, who had boasted the week before that 2% of their staff are unpaid, a particular focus for action. Loads of info stalls outside job centres handed out leaflets with claimants' rights (send us an email at info@boycottworkfare.org if you want some leaflets and stickers to hand out at your local job centre).

Ruining the launch of 'in-work' sanctions

DWP ministers Mark Hoban and Freud set up a talk at workfare thinktank 'Policy Exchange' to launch their plans for extending benefit sanctions to those in work. But Boycott Workfare was there to 'ruin' their party. Watch the video here.

With the total number of sanctions this year set to exceed one million, the Civil Service Rank and File Network also took on sanctions with a week of action in August. Boycott Workfare is putting together sanctions stories too – please share yours!

Taking on the law

For twenty four hours earlier this year, all workfare schemes were unlawful. That was until the government decided to override the courts and enact unprecedented retroactive legislation to rewrite history. But Cait Reilly and Jamie Wilson who took on workfare in the courts have taken it to the next level and are challenging workfare as a human rights violation in the Supreme Court. The hearing took place in July and we await the results in the next few months.

Got five minutes?

Please take a few minutes to help step up the pressure on the workfare exploiters exposed over the last few months:

Disabled People Against the Cuts week of action

Disabled People Against Cuts are organising a week of action against the government’s neoliberal policies from 29th August, culminating in a mass day of action in London on 4th September.
Save the dates and get in touch with DPAC if you or your group wants to get involved in making it happen.

Date for the diary!

We are currently organising a UK gathering for welfare action groups and individuals looking to start a group to come together on 18 January and share ideas and experiences. Get in touch with us if you'd like to be involved in making this happen - info@boycottworkfare.org and keep your eyes peeled for further information.

Let us know what you're up to and stay in touch!"

Boycott Workfare

Friday, 23 August 2013

Stuart Dawson: 'Superlative Northern Artist' Dies


Born at Birch Hill Hospital 30th, June 1957, Died 1st, August 2013

STUART Dawson, the 56-year-old artist from Littleborough near Rochdale who local painter Walter Kershaw described as a 'superlative artist', died of an inoperable brain cancer on the 1st, August. Only last month Walter, who was opening an exhibition at Number Ten Gallery in Rochdale, told me of his condition. Earlier this year Mr. Kershaw had recommended that Northern Voices interview Stuart Dawson as the most promising local artist in the North West of England. Now sadly that will never happen.

Stuart had been part of a dynamic duo with Walter Kershaw in his journeys on a motor bike around Lancashire in the 1970s and 80s painting huge murals on the sides of derelict buildings and terraces. Walter told the Rochdale Observer: 'I have always been a great fan of Stuart's work.  He was a superlative artist and was in my opinion the best watercolour artist in the area by far.'

Following his graduation at Bradford College in 1978 and the Royal College of Art in 1983, Stuart held exhibitions of his work in London at the Royal Academy, the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford and at the Espace Vega in Paris. He has left a huge quantity of his paintings at Dean Clough Gallery in Halifax.

Stuart Dawson's funeral service was held at Littleborough Parish Church on Monday 12th, August.
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The current printed issue of NORTHERN VOICES No.14, is now available for sale - see below.   This issue N.V.14 contains a review of 'Six o' the Best Northern Artists' by our arts and culture correspondent Chris Draper, and we regularly feature reviews of exhibitions at galleries across the North, and it can still be obtained by contacting the people whose details are below or from one of our more than 40 outlets:
Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included). Cheques made payable to 'Northern Voices' should be sent c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.
email: northernvoices@hotmail.com

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Blacklist Latest Reports

1. Press coverage about police collusion with the blacklist:
 
http://www.hazards.org/blacklistblog/2013/08/19/police-%E2%80%98cover-up%E2%80%99-their-blacklisting-role/
http://union-news.co.uk/2013/08/blacklist-police/
http://darkernet.in/police-colluded-with-blacklisting-agencies-over-70-years/
2. Councils:
Dundee Council passed a motion against using blacklisting firms on Monday night plus....
3. Crossrail protests about ongoing blacklisting of Frank Morris - including protests in Chicago: 
4. Shrewsbury:
5. Australia
Ark Tribe - threatened with jail for organising a safety meeting on a building site
Bob Carnegie - threatened with jail for organising community support for a building site picket
6. Solidarity with blacklisted environmental activists fighting fracking at Balcombe.
Around 400 environmental activists are on the blacklist - almost certainly with information supplied by undercover police. Many construction workers have info on their files about where they supported environmental campaigns too. It's all one struggle.
This week many of these eco-activists were camped at Balcombe to support the local community campaign against fracking by US energy giant Quadzilla. You probably saw Caroline Lucas MP get arrested on the TV news.
Blacklisted workers and supporters were in attendance to show solidarity - big respect to Jim, Steve, Merrick & Fliss for representing:  End the Frack List
7. This Saturday night - don't forget this benefit social this Saturday 24th August
Saturday at 19:00
Ruskin House in Croydon, United Kingdom 
Blacklist Support Group
facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/blacklistSG/
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The current printed issue of NORTHERN VOICES No.14, is now available for sale - see below. This issue N.V.14 also with an article about Tameside entitled 'Who is in bed with the blacklisters' and an interview with blacklisted electrician George Tapp can still be obtained by writing or contacting the people whose details are below:
Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included). Cheques made payable to 'Northern Voices' should be sent c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.
email: northernvoices@hotmail.com

Queer+ Friends of Bradley Manning Marching at Manchester Pride on Saturday!



 QUEER+ Friends of Bradley will be marching in support of gay whistle-blowing hero Bradley Manning this coming Saturday (24th August) and we'd love for people to join us on the march. If you're not aware of who Bradley is, there's some information about him below.
  
We have a banner, placards, stickers, flyers, and whistles! We very much welcome straight allies, you don't need to be queer to join us! Please do let us know if you plan to come; Manchester Pride does place limits on the number of people able to walk in a group.
Unfortunately, information coming from Manchester Pride organisers is a little sparse at the moment but we’ll be meeting somewhere along Liverpool Road, Castlefield (enter via Water Street, not Deansgate) from 11am. As soon as we arrive we’ll lay out the banner and the Bradley Manning placards so that you can spot us along the pre-march lineup. Hopefully we’ll get more specific details about are march start point in the next couple of days.
For updates as we have them, for a contact number on the day, or if you have any questions, please email 1c6b7c34@opayq.com 
Nobel Peace Prize nominee PFC Bradley Manning, a 25-year-old Army intelligence analyst, who released the Collateral Murder video, that shows the killing of unarmed civilians and two Reuters journalists, by a US Apache helicopter crew in Iraq. Manning also shared documents known as the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and series of embarrassing US diplomatic cables. These documents were published by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, and they have illuminated such issues as the true number and cause of civilian casualties in Iraq, along with a number of human rights abuses by U.S.-funded contractors and foreign militaries, and the role that spying and bribes play in international diplomacy. Given the war crimes exposed by these documents, PFC Bradley Manning should be given a medal of honor.

Queer+ Friends of Bradley Manning can be found at:

Oliver Shykles
Queer Friends of Bradley Manning


Eric Pickles Stops Gateshead Demolition

A senior Cabinet minister has put the brakes on a controversial housing scheme which could see families forced out of their homes.  For eight years, Saltwell and Bensham Residents’ Association has fought against Gateshead Council’s plan to knock down 440 homes on the estates which authorities said were failing.

Demolition was earmarked as part of a huge regeneration project under the Pathfinder scheme to revitalise housing markets on Tyneside.  But now Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles has stepped in to support residents in their fight against the plans in Bensham and Saltwell.  He issued an Article 25 'stopper notice' forbidding demolition of the terraces while he decides whether or not to call in the proposal.

He has 21 days to make a decision.

Yesterday, secretary of the residents’ association Nancy Bone said despite only 10 houses still being occupied the group wouldn’t give up its fight against the plans.
She said:
'People still want to live there and about 10 houses are still occupied. We have been fighting against the demolition for eight years at least and we won’t give in. We will fight until the end.  We were really pleased with the decision.  There is nothing wrong with the homes that are there. The same homes are in Jesmond.  They are literally knocking streets down and refurbishing others.'

In June 2011, a judge declared that Gateshead’s demolition of 115 homes was unlawful. Campaign group SAVE Britain’s Heritage had obtained interim injunctions to halt the demolitions but these were ultimately discharged by the courts in November 2010 and the council began demolition work.
A meeting of Gateshead Council’s Planning and Development Committee voted unanimously that it was minded to approve the planning application for retrospective permission for the 115 demolitions along with a further 291 demolitions.

The application was for the retrospective demolition of the 115 dwellings, three retail units, and 14 garages and the phased demolition of the further 291 dwellings and four commercial premises.
The three sites covered in the planning application include the vacant site on the west of Saltwell Road, and flats near Kelvin Grove and Hyde Park Street, which are mostly empty.

Gateshead Council Strategic Director of Development and Enterprise Paul Dowling said:
'We are disappointed that the decision has been made by the Secretary of State to delay this planning decision, but we acknowledge the need for him to consider the request he has received.  We have long pursued a planned approach to a mix of refurbishment and new-build homes in Bensham and Saltwell to create a sustainable community. This can be seen by the 1,250 homes that have already been refurbished.  Taken as a whole, the replacement proposed equates to no more than 5% of properties in the area. But there is a clear need for different types of home in this area and the regenerative impact that they will deliver is obvious. It needs to be recognised that Tyneside flats alone cannot support a vibrant community in this day and age.'

Gibraltar, Spain & the E.U.

THIS week the European Commission, the executive arm of of the European Union, entered the dispute between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar.  Gibraltar is a 2.6 square mile peninsular dominated by the rock of Gibraltar just south of the town of La Linea de la Concepción in the Bay of Algeciras in the Andalucian province of Cadiz.  The latest spat over Spanish fishing rights and Gibraltarian smuggling of cigarettes has been described by some Spaniards as a return by the Spanish authorities to the tactics and diplomacy of General Franco in the 1960s and 70s.  

I first entered Gibraltar in the early Spring of 1964 in order to regularise my passport and family documents to allow us to continue to reside in Spain.  In the end with the help of some local anarchist Gibraltarians, I got a job as an electrician at Gibraltar airport while living with my family in La Linea.  In 1964, relations between Britain and Spain were relaxed and each working day I and about 10,000 Spaniards crossed the border clutching our passports in order to work in the British colony.  By 1967, things had deteriorated and the British held a referendum in which a clear majority of Gibraltarains voted to remain of a British colony with only just over 40 voting to go with Spain.  After that Franco closed the La Linea Frontier and stopped the ferry from Algercires to Gibraltar, meaning that henceforth departure and entry to the Rock had to be by boat via Morocco or by air:  thus the Spanish workforce was withdrawn until after the death of Franco in 1975.  None of these recent difficulties involving stricter Spanish border checks on the pretext to curb tobacco smuggling are new to Gibraltar, and in the early 19th century there was a siege by the French under Napoleon. 
 
Fabian Picardo, the leader of the Gibraltar government, has accused the Spanish government of using the dispute to divert attention from an ongoing scandal over a slush fund that has almost drowned the Spanish head of government and his conservative Popular Party.   It is true that there has always been tobacco smuggling from Gibraltar into Spain; as Spain's Interior Minister, Jorge Fernandez said  last Friday that Gibraltar could not be 'the frontier of tobacco smuggling,' noting that Gib. had imported 140 million packs of cigarettes last year, even though it has only 30,000 residents.  The left in Spain believe the timing of these complaints is to distract public attention from the Mr. Rajoy's government's other more pressing problems. 
 
El Pais, Spain's leading newspaper, in a recent editorial entitled 'August Fever' said that a 'realistic vision' ought to take account of the fact that any concession by Britain over Gibraltar might encourage Morocco to revive its claims over Spain's own North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.   

Monday, 19 August 2013

Croydon T.U.C. Back George Tapp

ON Saturday 24 August 2013 Croydon Trades Union Council (TUC) is holding a special event to show solidarity for George Tapp following the attack on him, and the Blacklist Support Group.
We hope the event will be an opportunity for Trades Unionists and the Labour movement in Croydon to show general support for the Blacklisting Campaign.
The event at Ruskin House Croydon's Trade Union and Labour Centre,23 Coombe Road, Croydon CR0 1BD.. There will be live music and the Ruskin House Club Bar will be open from 7:00 p.m.
This is to ask you to circulate among your email lists, and if possible (given the short notice) to have a speaker from the campaign to give an update on the current position.
Yours fraternally
Jon Morgan
President of Croydon TUC
07759 015696

Police and Information Commissioner Accused



Blacklist Support Group Challenges Metropolitan Police
ON the day The Guardian publishes evidence of police collusion with blacklisting building workers, the Blacklist Support Group accuses the Met Police and Information Commissioners Office of deliberately withholding information that proves the link between the police and the blacklist. 

From the first moments blacklisted workers saw the secret files kept on them by the Consulting Association it was clear that some detailed information about political activities outside work and at the weekends could only have been supplied by the police. The Guardian news story about police collusion with the blacklist finally exposes the secret collusion.
There is now an evidence trail from the undercover police officers who spied on activists to the information they gleaned appearing on illegal blacklist files that were used to deny work to union members in the building industry. 
An undercover police officer from the Special Demonstration Squad wing of Special Branch admits spying on activists involved in anti-BNP campaigns. Entries with specific times and dates where activists were 'observed' by police on anti-racist protests appears as entries on the Consulting Association blacklist files.  How would any building site manager have access to this information without it being provided by the police? 
Another undercover police officer exposed in the Rob Evans & Paul Lewis book Undercover, posed as a construction worker during the late 90s and actually chaired campaign meetings reported on blacklist files.  This suspicion was backed up by David Clancy, investigations manager at the ICO who has told a court and a Select Committee that in his opinion 'information on some of the files could only have been supplied by the police.'
The Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigation also heard evidence from Stan Hardy, Jack Winder and Ian Kerr (all of whom were centrally involved with blacklisting for decades) that there was a regular 'two-way exchange' of information with the police about union activists.   
Senior police officers from the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU) attended meetings of the blacklisting organisation the Consulting Association in 2008. The code "bad egg" appears on some blacklist files where information about a particular union activist was shared between the police and the illegal blacklist.  Minutes from that meeting and a PowerPoint presentation given by NETCU are in the offices of the ICO but the data watchdog is refusing to release the documents even after Freedom of Information requests by blacklist campaigners and investigative journalists.
Even more ominous is the refusal by the Met Police to release police files under Subject Access Request to a number of blacklisted workers with covering letters which infer that the campaigners are subject to ongoing police surveillance. 
Dave Smith - secretary Blacklist Support Group said:
'The mountain of evidence about the police and security services spying on trade union activists is now damning.  We even know the names of the undercover cops who spied on us.  This is not about a couple of rogue officers: this is deliberate state collusion with big business.  The Consulting Association blacklist ruined lives and has been described in parliament as "the worst human rights abuse involving workers since the war". It is now crystal clear that the police and security services were involved in that human rights abuse.  The ICO are now refusing to disclose documents in their possession that prove the link between the police and the blacklist.  The Met Police are refusing to disclose files to blacklisted workers.  Worse still, it seems the police are still spying on us.  Why are the authorities refusing to give us the documents?  Why are the police spying on blacklisted workers campaigning for the truth about this national scandal?  This is a cover up - plain and simple.  How can victims of this human rights abuse have any faith whatsoever in the truth being uncovered when the police are investigating themselves?  Only a full Leveson style public inquiry will get to the truth - what more evidence do the bloody politicians need?' 
Blacklist Support Group
facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/blacklistSG/
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The current printed issue of NORTHERN VOICES No.14, is now available for sale - see below. This issue N.V.14 also with an article about Tameside entitled 'Who is in bed with the blacklisters' and an interview with blacklisted electrician George Tapp can still be obtained by writing or contacting the people whose details are below:
Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included). Cheques made payable to 'Northern Voices' should be sent c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.
email: northernvoices@hotmail.com

Friday, 16 August 2013

Wigan man hangs himself over 'Bedroom Tax'!

The following report which we are publishing, appeared in the local newspaper, 'Wigan Today'.

"A MAN saddled with extra debt after a hike in his rent because of the bedroom tax took his own life, an inquest heard.

Bolton Coroner’s Court was told John Walker, from Marsh Green, was found hanged at his home by his former partner Susan Martin in May after she went to his home as he had sounded upset and low during their phone conversations.

The court heard Mr Walker, 57, had been worried about mounting financial problems with loans and his credit card due to being out of work, and had also disagreed with the JobCentre who had told him he was fit to work despite his complaints of an injury to his back.

His difficulties with money were compounded by being forced to pay extra rent on his property under the so-called “bedroom tax”, which was introduced earlier this year.

The inquest was also told Mr Walker had problems with heavy drinking, and was upset when he was unable to provide presents for his daughter because he had blown money set aside on booze.

Ms Martin told the court: “In the weeks leading up to his death a few things troubled him. He was out of work and struggling to pay a loan, and he was also still trying to pay for a place in Torquay which had been repossessed and sold for less than we bought it for.

“He didn’t really express his feelings but things upset him. I still tried to see him regularly because he had distanced himself from a lot of his friends and his family back in Birmingham.”

Mr Walker came to Wigan in 2001 and later moved into the property in Hampden Place where he was living at the time of his death. Born in the West Midlands he had previously moved to Weymouth, where he worked in holiday camps, and to Torquay, where he found work in a hotel.

Police quickly ruled outfoul play and officers also found a note in the property.

A post-mortem investigation revealed the only system in his body at the time of his death were low levels of paracetamol consistent with medicinal use and could not have impaired his judgement.

Recording a suicide verdict, deputy coroner Alan Walsh said: “To some extent, his life was ruined by his inability to stop drinking.”

Warning to Housing Association Staff

Potential Threat from Bedroom Tax Protestors
A Merseyside housing association is advising office staff not to display their uniforms or name badges outside work hours due to fears for their safety from bedroom tax protestors. 

First Ark, the parent company of Knowsley Housing Trust, which owns around 14,000 homes, issued the warning to nearly 500 staff in an internal newsletter last week. 

The message follows months of protests in the region about the bedroom tax, under which working-age social housing tenants with a spare bedroom have their benefit reduced.

A number of campaigners have held protests outside the offices of housing associations which they deem to be ‘complicit’ in the tax due to their need to collect rent. 

A spokesperson for KHT, which has around 3,000 tenants affected by the bedroom tax, said: ‘Due to the number of protests there have been in the region about the bedroom tax and the intensity of feeling around evictions, we have advised staff to take extra precautions to minimise risk if they are wearing KHT uniforms or badges outside work hours.’

He added that front line staff have received training to deal with ‘confrontational situations’ because of the nature of their jobs which office staff have not had.

Other Merseyside landlords, including Halton Housing Trust, Liverpool Mutual Homes and One Vision Housing, have no plans to follow KHT’s lead. 

Hugh Owen, director of policy and communications at Riverside, said he has not been aware of ‘bedroom tax-related threats’ against its staff and said Riverside has no plans to issue a warning. But he added: ‘I know employees are finding encounters with tenants more difficult because of the distressing circumstances people are finding themselves in.’ 

Joanna Walker, spokesperson for lone worker safety charity Suzy Lamplugh Trust backed KHT’s move. She said: ‘It makes sense for workers to keep the aggression to a minimum by taking name badges off.’

Bridgewater Post Strike After 8-days

110 Bridgwater Royal Mail strikers, out on the gate for their eighth day tomorrow, Saturday 17th, are more determined than ever to secure a decent settlement from their employer. They have also welcomed an intervention on their behalf from Len McCluskey of the Unite union. 

The Bridgwater postmen and women are in the Bristol Branch of the CWU/Communication Workers Union, which is dealing with scores of local strike ballot requests from all over the country, as the Government prepares for its autumn plan to sell Royal Mail off. 

Most of these local issues are the same: excessive workloads; a punitive managerial regime that disciplines staff of up to 45 years service for working too slow; finally, managers breaking local and national agreements with the CWU that protect health and safety, earnings levels, and permanent and full-time job opportunities. 

Dave Chapple, Bristol CWU Branch Chair and shop steward at Bridgwater’s Friarn St office, said:
'Bridgwater lads and lasses on strike have reacted with calm and a quiet determination to an extremely aggressive supervisory regime that has been trying to provoke wildcat strikes for a month or more now. Managers have secretly spied on us, peeked under toilet doors, bullied us out of tea and fag breaks, refused legitimate overtime claims, taken us off our own duties, changed duty start and finish times without agreement, chivvied us in public for not walking or cycling fast enough, threatened temporary contract staff with reductions in hours, and banned and threatened CWU Reps with disciplinary action for performing their legitimate union activities. All this because we dared to challenge an imposed and un-agreed summer "savings" plan.   Stronger than ever despite your systematic bulling regime, we now have this serious message to send to senior Royal Mail managers at regional and national level:
You have made a serious mistake in trying to beat Bridgwater by starving us back to work. You have seriously underestimated our strength: after 8 days out, we are stronger than ever, thanks to the support we are getting daily from other Royal Mail workplaces, CWU Branches and trades unionists all over the country. Please can you now admit your tactics are misguided: please pension off your hawks, sit down with us and work out a decent future at Friarn St, where there is no place for bullies, a future that can, together, Save our Royal Mail and Keep the Post Office Public!  Bridgwater postmen and women are also on strike this Monday 19th, and have requested their CWU HQ a whole week commencing 2nd September.  Sympathetic members of the public, our friends in the media, and all our brother and sister trade union members are welcome on our picket lines between 5am and 9am. Postcode is TA6 3XX.'

Dave Chapple also said: “We especially welcome members of the Unite union to our picket line. Up to 150 members of Unite-Royal Mail managers-have been crossing our picket lines during our last seven strikes days, and attempting to undertake our delivery work: we now understand that Len McCluskey himself has written to all these managers instructing them not to come to Bridgwater to try and break the strike. That’s great news for us! 

PRESS RELEASE: 1pm Friday August 16th 2013

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Our kids at risk again in Rochdale?

More concern as figures show more local sex abuse on cards
 
THIS Autumn ten more alleged sexual predators from Rochdale are to go on trial.  This follows on from last year's court case in which nine local men were put away for a total of 77-years last May.  They were found guilty of abusing vulnerable young lasses, but what was more shocking was that it was revealed that the authorities had been tipped off as long ago as 2004 that the lasses were being groomed and suffering sexual exploitation by gangs of older men. 

These gangs operating through local taxi and take-away businesses seemingly had open season to exploit the girls.  Issues have been raised about whether these men had such a seemingly free run because of certain fashionable institutional attitudes which turned a blind eye to specific cultural groups.  Whatever was the case, it is now clear that some folk in positions of responsibility took the view that the girls were 'old enough to make their own choices'.

Since then we are told that Rochdale Council has overhauled its children's social services team, and the police together with the Greater Manchester Police Commissioner Tony Lloyd, have said that child sex exploitation is their number one priority.

Despite all this in Greater Manchester 400 children have been identified as being at risk of sexual exploitation, and 54 of these are in Rochdale.

Last week, Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk told the Rochdale Observer 'I am not surprised by these figures. Rochdale has some of the highest levels of poverty in parts of the borough and a high number of what the government terms troubled families.'

Last November Mr. Danczuk, together with others, was instumental in exposing the historic scandal the abuse of young lads in Rochdale by the now disgraced former MP for Rochdale Sir Cyril Smith.


Eggs for Ed from former homeless man

ED Miliband was attacked for being compliant with the ‘out of touch’ government and had eggs pelted at him by a former homeless man in London.
During his tour of East Street market in Walworth yesterday, the party leader was hit in the head with an egg but laughed off the incident, saying it was a ‘new way to connect with voters’.  He posted on his twitter later in the day:  ‘Thanks to all at East St Market for the warm welcome today. Can recommend it for easy availability of eggs.’

The former homeless man, accused both Labour and the Tories of being ‘on the side of the rich’.

The thrower is thought to be Dean Porter, 38, who was led away by market security guards.  He later said he had egged Miliband because the Labour leader is ‘part of the problem’ in politics.  He said he was homeless for about five year on and off in London and added the issue regarding the homeless is ‘atrocious’.

It is believed the police will take no action against Mr Porter.

From INSIDEHOUSING.CO.UK
Ms Sylvia Wilson
Coordinator: Homes Under Threat (HUT National Network)
01282 604749
sylvia@homesunderthreat.co.uk

Homeless in Wheelie Bins!

Perils of Rough Sleeping

Two homelessness charities are in talks with a major waste management company in a bid to prevent the death of rough sleepers who are bedding down in bins.
 
The government-backed advice line Streetlink, which is operated by umbrella body Homeless Link and charity Broadway, is in talks about forming a partnership with waste management company Biffa to encourage refuse collectors to check nobody is sleeping in bins before clearing them away.  The idea follows at least three deaths of homeless people sleeping in bins in recent years – and anecdotal evidence that the issue is more widespread.

In September last year, a 50-year-old homeless man fell asleep in a wheelie bin and was crushed to death as it was emptied into a compactor lorry. Biffa was not the company involved in the incident. The discovery by staff at a refuse depot in Wirral, Merseyside, was described as a ‘tragic accident’ by police.

An inquest heard that the same month a 48-year-old homeless man was crushed to death after a Smethwick bin he was sleeping in was taken to a recycling plant.  Workers at a recycling plant in Tipton found Ranjit Singh’s body within a pile of rubbish that was being sorted last September.

This followed a 31-year-old rough sleeper who was found suffocated under debris in Ardwick, Manchester, in November 2009, after climbing into a bin to sleep.

It is understood the charities are looking to hold discussions with other companies in the refuse sector to protect rough sleepers.

A source close to Streetlink said:
‘We had shared concerns about the issue – it just made sense for us to put our heads together on it.’

Streetlink and Biffa’s discussions came just a week after South Tyneside Council’s final Commission on homelessness report, which revealed that homeless people were sleeping in skips overnight in South Shields in Tyne and Wear.

The scheme is based on anecdotal evidence as no national figures are collected about the scale of the problem.

‘If it happens once, that’s enough of an indication that it needs to stop,’ the source close to Streetlink added:  ‘[Bins are] not at a safe place for somebody to spend the night.’

Biffa declined to comment.

From INSIDEHOUSING.CO.UK

Blacklister Balfour Beatty Makes £41 million Loss

BALFOUR Beatty’s British regional construction unit made an operational loss of £41 million pounds in the first half of 2013, after £59 million profit a year earlier.
Results for the half year, to June 28 2013, show the construction division slumped after the company issued a profit warning in April after unearthing problem contracts at its UK regional construction business.
The UK construction woes were a main contributor to the group’s pre-tax profits falling 70%.
On their website, one of the highlights of the report said the company would now take ‘firm action to address UK construction underperformance’.
Chief executive officer Andrew McNaughton said: “Our markets continue to be challenging, but our actions are delivering the intended results.
 'With sustained focus on operational delivery, we expect to achieve a performance in our continuing operations that is in line with the current market expectations for 2013.  In the longer term, our goal is to capitalise on the growth in global infrastructure from an international footprint of local businesses.
The benefits from this focus combined with the impending recovery in some of our mature markets position us well for the future.'

The company announced the sale of Workplace for £190 million last week.
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The current printed issue of NORTHERN VOICES No.14, is now available for sale - see below. This issue N.V.14 also with an article about Tameside entitled 'Who is in bed with the blacklisters' and an interview with blacklisted electrician George Tapp can still be obtained by writing or contacting the people whose details are below:
Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included). Cheques made payable to 'Northern Voices' should be sent c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.
email: northernvoices@hotmail.com

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Households Worse Off!

HOUSEHOLDS claiming benefit will be £1,615 a year worse off in 2015/16 as a result of the coalition government’s welfare reforms, a report has found.
The study carried out by the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion and commissioned by the Local Government Association, illustrate the cumulative impact of welfare reform. The government’s reforms include an overall household benefits cap of £26,000, the ‘bedroom tax’ on tenants deemed to be underoccupying their homes, local housing allowance caps and caps to increase in benefits.
The CESI study found 60 per cent of all welfare reform reductions fall on households where somebody works.
Four out of five of households hit are likely to need some form of assistance from their council to help cope with the reduction in their welfare, due to the shortage of jobs and affordable homes.
The LGA has used the report’s findings to call for action from the government. It wants council borrowing caps to be relaxed to make it easier for local authorities to build homes. It also wants councils to have more influence over employment programmes and for a re-evaluation of discretionary housing payments, so supply better meets demand in different areas.
Sharon Taylor, chair of the finance panel at the LGA, said: ‘In many areas welfare reform is not encouraging people into work because the jobs simply don’t exist, while the opportunities for people to downsize their homes to cope with reductions in benefits are severely limited by a lack of affordable accommodation.
‘Unless more is done to create new jobs and homes, households will be pushed into financial hardship and we will see a huge rise in the number of people going to their councils asking for help to make ends meet.’ :  insidehousing.co.uk  

Keogh mortality review ' Risk Summit video' - Tameside Hospital.



We thought our readers might be interested in watching this NHS choices video about Tameside Hospital, presented by the panel set up by Sir Bruce Keogh, which met on 1 July 2013. The 'Risk Summit' was chaired by Richard Barker, NHS England North.

Gill Harris, who chaired the 'Rapid Responsive Review Panel', describes  the hospital as an "organisation that was failing to learn (from previous reviews/action plans) and embed changes in practice." She also says the hospital was an organisation that couldn't give full assurance regarding the quality of care provided.

The lay representative on the panel, Margaret Hughes, says in the video that the hospital governor's lacked basic knowledge of their role and therefore were unable to carry out their statutory responsibilities.

Egypt & Military Sedition

DOES the Muslim Brotherhood have a case in the present conflict in Egypt?  What has happened in Egypt, despite what seemed to be popular overthrow of Mohamed Morsi - the countries first democratically elected president, whether we like it or not is clearly military sedition.  'Sedition' is defined as 'a concerted movement to overthrow an established government'.  The more perceptive reader will see the similarity between what has happened in Egypt this Summer, and what happened in Spain during the military insurrection in July 1936.  

The successful military insurrection of the Spanish military in July 1936, which ultimately led to the dictatorship of General Franco, was military sedition against the then legally elected Republican government, just as the ousting of Mr. Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt is military sedition today.  Commenting on the whether Franco and the Spanish military had a case George Orwell wrote in a letter dated 1st, August 1937:
'I should not say that the (right-wing) rebels had no case, unless you believe that it is always wrong to rebel against a legally-established government, which in practice nobody does.'  

Some have tried to justify the seizure of power by the Egyptian military by saying that Mr. Morsi and his government were introducing an Islamic constitution that would overwhelm the opposition.  And yet, what is now happening in Egypt ought to give us real cause for concern.    

On Saturday, the editorial in the International Herald Tribune (IHT) declared:
'The generals who now call the shots in the world's leading Arab country and their handpicked  civilian government have halted efforts to reach a compromise with the Islamic supporters of the man they ousted:  Mohamed Morsi...  Instead, they have threatened to forcibly disperse tens of thousands of pro-Morsi civilians from sit-ins in Cairo.'

However much we may dislike Islamic extremism, it is impossible for those of us believe in civil liberties to defend this kind of thing, and the editorial in last Saturday's IHT persuasively argued:
'The Brotherhood, having been tossed out in a coup, might legitimately wonder whether the democratic process can ever be trusted.'

Today, the news reports say that  yesterday the Egyptian police postponed their threat to begin choking off the two Cairo sit-ins where tens of thousands have gathered to protest against the overthow of President Mohamed Morsi thus continuing the six-week standoff.  It is thought that the police called off their clear-up because their plan to end the sit-ins was leaked to the media (the A.P. reports).  But ministry officials have said, the police will start to step up their use of 'nonlethal tactics', including tear gas and water cannons.  It is not clear though if this is immediately on the cards.

Friday, 9 August 2013

More CWU Strikes in Bridgewater!

OUR next four days of strike action are this Saturday August 10th, Monday August 12th, Saturday August 17th, Monday August 19th: please continue your support! 

110 members at Bridgwater Delivery Office in Somerset, having already taken 5 days of strike action, are now embarking on another four days of strikes with the possibility of a whole week at the beginning of September.

The original issues are still with us and unresolved: un-agreed cuts to full-time jobs and overtime; failure to negotiate with the union; failure to pay money for previous savings; too many and too many bullying managers.

Royal Mail, unlike many previous legal official and unofficial strikes at Bridgwater, are digging in and refusing to consider reasonable compromises.  In the last few weeks, in between strikes, many local agreements have been ripped up and CWU members increasingly harassed. CWU Reps have been moved from work areas, isolated, and banned from the office on their days off. Postmen and women have been spied on, followed, harangued by three managers at a time for ‘breaking off’ or being too slow, until they break down or go sick.

To complete the hypocrisy, the senior manager remains in charge and un-suspended despite allegations of signing for and opening a Special Delivery letter addressed to a postman who is taking out a bullying and harassment charge against him!

There is a strong feeling in the Delivery Office that the employer is trying to provoke a wildcat walk out on a carefully-chosen issue that might split the office. We ARE trying to keep it legal. 

What has restored morale and determination is the magnificent response to the Bridgwater Dispute Fund Appeal, both within the Communication Workers’ Union and the wider trade union movement.  Over twenty trades unionists from a dozen unions have addressed our Friarn St picket lines which run from 5am to 9am: ‘solidarity hour’ is between 8am and 9am. Our next four strikes are Saturday 10th August, Monday 12th August, Saturday 17th August, and Monday 19th August. See you there! Royal Mail, 25 Friarn St, TA6 3XX

A CWU Rep from the dispute or our Bristol Branch is always available to speak at trade union branch meetings, while financial solidarity-as well as picket-line speakers-is as vital as ever. Please make any cheques payable to ‘Bridgwater Trades Union Council’ and send to Dave Chapple, CWU, 1 Blake Place, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 5AU tel. 0777 6304 276 davechapple@btinternet.com

Friends, 
Please see above news on the latest strikes at Bridgwater Royal Mail Delivery Office which need support from the wider trade union movement more than ever-the employer is out to break us without a doubt! So please get in touch, see you on our next picket line-sorry they are so early in the morning!-and a genuine thank you from 110 strikers for your support so far......five strike days gone, four coming up and another week long strike requested......please let me know if you can come down and speak to our picket lines: overnight accommodation available. 
Could you also please pass this onto all your contacts.
Thanks, 
Dave Chapple: Shop steward/Bristol CWU Branch Chair 0777 6304 276 

Black Roses returns to Royal Exchange

Award Winning Play about Sophie Lancaster returns to the Royal Exchange Stage 
THE Royal Exchange Theatre’s acclaimed production of BLACK ROSES: THE KILLING OF SOPHIE LANCASTER – starring Coronation Street’s Julie Hesmondhalgh - is to return in 2014. 

A sell-out success when it premiered last year, audiences will have a second chance to see this moving response to the tragic death of the young gap-year student when it comes back to The Studio at the Royal Exchange from Wednesday 26 February to Saturday 8 March.

The Royal Exchange has been awarded funds as part of Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Programme which means the production will also be able to tour North West community venues and theatre spaces next year, (tour dates yet to be announced) with accompanying participation work and resources. 

Written as an elegy to Sophie by poet Simon Armitage - alongside the words of Sophie’s mother Sylvia Lancaster – the play was brought to the stage for the first time in September 2012 and played to packed houses throughout its run. 

The production features the original cast which includes Rachel Austin as Sophie and Julie Hesmondhalgh (best known as Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street) as Sylvia. It won two Manchester Theatre Awards - ‘Best Studio Production’ and ‘Best Performance in a Studio Production’ (for Julie Hesmondhalgh).

The play tells the story of Sophie Lancaster was beaten unconscious in Stubbeylee Park, Bacup in August 2007 and later died from her injuries in hospital.  She was 20 years old, had just passed her A-levels and was working out what to do with her life. She was killed because she was dressed differently. 

The piece – originally a radio play - provoked an unprecedented response when it premiered on BBC Radio 4 in 2011. The play went on to win the BBC Audio and Music Best Speech Programme of the Year Award.  The Royal Exchange production is co-directed by Royal Exchange Artistic Director Sarah Frankcom and award-winning BBC Radio Drama producer Susan Roberts.

Sarah Frankcom said:   'Sophie's story needs to keep being told, again and again. The award allows us to take Black Roses to communities and audiences we haven't yet engaged with and to build relationships using the play as a springboard. It is also a great example of what we believe theatre can be and do - provocative, challenging and profoundly affecting.' 

Alison Clark-Jenkins, Arts Council Director, North said:
'Black Roses had a very strong impact on audiences when it was first staged last year and so I’m pleased that the Royal Exchange Theatre will now be taking a piece of work with the same high quality production values into community venues in the north.  One of the aims of our Strategic touring fund is to enable people across the country to have improved access to great art visiting their local area and this tour will offer more people, particularly young audiences, the opportunity to experience this powerful work.'

The production supports the ongoing work of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, which promotes respect and understanding of subcultures in our communities. More information is available at www.sophielancasterfoundation.com.
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The current printed issue of NORTHERN VOICES No.14, is now available for sale - see below.   There are also a few copies of Northern Voices No.13, with the NV interview with Sophie Lancaster's mum, both can still be obtained see details below:
Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included). Cheques made payable to 'Northern Voices' should be sent c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.
email: northernvoices@hotmail.com

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Police call time on Yahoos on the Transpennine Real Ale Trail!



It seems there has been a surge in loutish behaviour on the Transpennine Real Ale Trail since yahoos in fancy dress, discovered the benefits of real ale.

The ale trail runs through train stations at Stalybridge, Mossley, Greenfield, Marsden, to destinations towards Huddersfield and Batley. But pubs along the trail are complaining of anti-social behaviour by yobs dressed as tarts and vicars on stag and hen parties, who have made many villages along the route a 'no-go' zone.

Members of the Real Ale Trail licensees group, have now banded together to stop the sale of larger and shots, and fancy dress, in an attempt to stop boozed-fuelled anti-social drunken behaviour.  Sam Smith, manager of the Station Buffet Bar in Stalybridge, told a local newspaper:

"In the last year there's been a real change in the number and the types of groups we've been getting on the trail. We've had more problems with anti-social behaviour and something had to be done to try and clamp down on it. It got to a point where many of our customers just wouldn't come here on a Saturday any more."

Northern Rail have said that they have had to hire extra security to deal with the influx of "boozed-up crowds." Martyn Guiver, head of crime for Northern Rail said:

"We get a lot of anti-social behaviour, smashed bottles and glasses, people urinating in the road and people showing a lack of respect for the resident of villages on the line."

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Hewlett Packard suspends Branch Secretary for representing PCS members!

Industrial action by PCS members at Hewlett Packard has been resumed after compulsory redundancy notices were issued last month. About 50 PCS members, at Lytham St. Annes, Newcastle and Sheffield, were amongst approximately a hundred who received notice at these sites, where IT services are provided for the Department of Work & Pensions. Many more have taken voluntary redundancy.

Shortly before the sackings took place, HP had given notice of imposition of its 1.6% pay offer. The long running dispute, which had previously seen a one day strike on 29th April, is over both the 2013 pay claim for PCS members covered by collective bargaining and job security. HP has declared its intention to concentrate work at ‘strategic delivery hubs’, at Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Erskine, Scotland with its other sites being run down. It is also sacking permanent staff whilst continuing to recruit in large numbers, graduates on lower rates of pay.

There is controversy too, over HP’s receipt from the Scottish Government of a £7 million Regional Selective Assistance grant. The company had told the funding authority, Scottish Enterprise, that the grant money would go towards investment in creating 720 new jobs. The union claims that HP is merely moving to Erskine, work that was previously done by the people whom it is sacking on its English sites.
Two further days of strike action took place on 24th and 25th July and a work to rule resumed from 26th July.

Meanwhile, the Branch Secretary of the PCS HP North West Branch, John Pearson, remains suspended, charged with breaching company confidentiality by sending details of the redundancy selection job pools to his branch's members. 


On 4th July, John received a warning from a HR manager that he risked disciplinary action if he accepted invitations to represent members in grievance and disciplinary cases. He has now received an instruction to attend a disciplinary meeting on Wednesday 7th August. The letter conveying the instruction to attend the disciplinary meeting contained details of a second charge :


"Failure to follow HP and client policies and processes in respect of press interviews : On 22 April, you were quoted in a Tech Week Europe article and referenced HP's work on the launch of the Universal Credit, part of its DWP account. No prior permission was sought from either HP or the DWP, contrary to HP's Confidentiality Policy and the DWP publicity request process".


The second charge illustrates perhaps even more clearly than the first that HP is aiming to destroy the very concept of an independent trade union, requiring elected officers to seek the employer's permission to talk to the press on matters affecting their members.

In view of this attack on the union, it is a cause for concern that, in the apparently simple matter of publicising on the union’s official website a brief article on John’s case calling for messages of solidarity and support for an online petition  to the Managing Director of HP, there has been several weeks of bureaucratic delay.

Messages of support should be sent to : pcs_nw@hotmail.com

Friday, 2 August 2013

Ballot on Strike at Royal Mail

THE Communication Workers Union agreed  yesterday to hold a national strike ballot of Royal Mail workers unless protections for jobs and services can be secured. 

Around 500 CWU reps met at the union's policy forum in London today and voted unanimously in favour of holding a national strike ballot in Royal Mail no later than September 2013. If the ballot goes ahead it will include 115,000 postal workers in Royal Mail (excluding Parcelforce and the Post Office) and would be the first ballot for national strike action in Royal Mail since September 2009.
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Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said yesterday:
'The current situation cannot go on. Postal workers are being squeezed in their workplaces, facing an uncertain future and changes to their pensions. There hasn't yet been a pay rise for staff this year despite healthy company profits of £403 million. But most importantly, we want protections for job security and terms and conditions and these are sadly lacking.  CWU is committed to holding serious negotiations with Royal Mail to achieve settlement on these issues, but efforts to date do not bode well.  The company only began to seriously negotiate with us following our consultative ballot in June, which showed 99% of postal workers back the union's position on pay, 96% are opposed to privatisation and 92% are willing to take part in a boycott of competitors' mail and to withdraw cooperation on workplace changes.  We do not take the decision to hold a strike ballot lightly. However, we will stop at nothing to ensure the future of our members' jobs - and of the services they deliver - are protected.'

Royal Exchange Casting for 'All My Sons'

CASTING details have now been confirmed for a major revival of Arthur Miller’s ALL MY SONS  - a co-production between the Royal Exchange Theatre and Talawa Theatre Company - which runs at the Royal Exchange from Wednesday 25 September to Saturday 26 October 2013.

This collaboration will feature two of the country’s most distinguished actors – Don Warrington MBE (RISING DAMP, DEATH IN PARADISE) and Doña Croll (CASUALTY, DOCTORS).  
 
They play Joe and Kate Keller, an all-American couple who have the ghosts of World War II living in their own backyard.  Joe is a successful, self-made businessman, a loving family man and a pillar of the community. He is a partner in a machine shop building fighter plane parts. One thing overshadows Joe and Kate’s happiness - their son is missing in action, presumed dead by all but his mother. 

Set in 1947, this searing investigation of honesty, guilt and the corrupting power of greed was Arthur Miller’s first success, establishing him as a leading voice in theatre.   

The cast also includes Delroy Atkinson, Simon Coombs, Andrea Davy, Roger Griffiths, Kemi-Bo Jacobs, Bethan Mary-James and Chiké Okonkwo.   

The production is directed by Michael Buffong, Artistic Director of Talawa Theatre Company. His previous credits for the Royal Exchange include the multi award-winning A RAISIN IN THE SUN and PRIVATE LIVES.  

Talawa Theatre Company is Britain’s primary Black-led theatre company, producing work that has had a major impact on the British theatrical landscape since 1987.  

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Activist says: 'UK Construction Industry on Trial!'




THE High Court claim against Sir Robert McAlpine (SRM) for 'tort of unlawful conspiracy' due to their central involvement in the blacklisting conspiracy has taken a major twist as the company added 34 other defendants to the legal case as part of their defence submitted to the court.

The claim being brought by workers in the building industry represented by Guney, Clark and Ryan solicitors in association with the Blacklist Support Group is based upon evidence discovered when the Consulting Association blacklist database was discovered following a raid by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) in 2009. 

Documents including invoices seized by the ICO and evidence given to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee by Cullum McAlpine, identify Sir Robert McAlpine as the key driver of the blacklisting conspiracy having set up the Consulting Association in the 1990s after purchasing the original blacklist from the notorious Economic League.

SRM have now added 34 other construction companies including household names such as Costain, Balfour Beatty, Skanska, Carillion, AMEY, AMEC as co- defendants in the conspiracy claim. Troubled construction firms Kier and BAM, both currently under investigation by Vincent Cable's BIS for their role in ongoing blacklisting of union activists on the Crossrail project are also added to the action by SRM.

The additional defendants are all companies that subscribed to the Consulting Association blacklist between its formation in 1993 until its forced closure in 2009. Senior Directors and HR professionals within the companies covertly added personal sensitive, often wildly inaccurate information about union members who raised concerns about safety issues or unpaid wages. The information from the blacklist files was then secretly shared among the companies to check prospective employees or those of sub-contractors, with those individuals found to be on the list dismissed or refused employment.

The Consulting Association blacklist has been described as a 'National Scandal' by Chuka Umunna MP (Shadow Buisness Secretary) during a full debate in the House of Commons and a number of separate legal challenges are already within the legal system including human rights claims already lodged with Strasbourg.

Steve Acheson, spokesperson for the Blacklist Support Group and the claimant in whose name the group litigation was commenced, said: 
'The entire construction industry is now on trial in the High Court.  Blacklisted workers have waited over four years just to get this far but we will not cease our fight until we fully expose the secret human rights conspiracy and achieve some kind of justice: even if that means a full public inquiry.  We are fighting for compensation for our families but we are also fighting for all those workers who lost their lives on building projects when safety reps were systematically targeted by these companies who value profits above human life.'[

Sean Curran, partner at Guney, Clark and Ryan solicitors said:
'Guney Clark and Ryan Solicitors have been singularly working on this case since 2009 in pursuit of those companies and individuals whose nefarious and clandestine actions caused such great harm and injury to our claimants and their families. We are very happy that the action is now progressing through the court system. Ultimately we look forward to the day we obtain redress on behalf of our clients and in doing so, ensuring they can move on with their careers and personal lives without this experience continuing to blight them' 

Blacklist Support Group
video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRB9DjmhBHg
blog: www.hazards.org/blacklistblog
facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/blacklistSG/