Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Blacklist Report latest update

1. High Court dates confirmed:
The new date for the High Court blacklisting claim is Thursday 10th July 2014. (Acheson & others v Sir Robert McAlpine & others)
This is likely to be a relatively short procedural hearing which grants a Group Litigation Order (GLO) that allows multiple cases to be heard in one hearing (similar to a 'class action' in the US). This is between the following companies - Sir Robert McAlpine, Carillion, Balfour Beatty, Costain, Kier, Skanska, Vinci and Laing O'Rourke and multiple claimants including UNITE, UCATT and GMB. The lead claimant legal team is Guney, Clark & Ryan (GCR) with in excess of 100 blacklisted workers and is supported by the Blacklist Support Group.
Blacklist Support Group (BSG) will be holding a protest outside the High Court prior to the hearing and a meeting to discuss the ongoing campaign after the hearing. More details to follow.
2. Compensation scheme:
The blacklisting firms named above have for the past 9 months been part of a publicity stunt orchestrated by a very expensive public relations firm called Grayling. They claim to be interested in a compensation scheme for blacklisted workers but to date not a single worker has been offered a single penny in compensation and the firms still refuse to give even a mealy mouthed public apology. BSG, the 3 unions and GCR have participated in talks with the firms but there is simply no desire by the firms to accept that they have done anything wrong. The offer from the firms is an absolute insult to the families they have affected.
BSG are demanding jobs for blacklisted workers and compensation that properly reflects the years of hurt for every single person whose name appears on the Consulting Association blacklist regardless of the dates covered. All of the trade unions, the various legal teams and the BSG representing blacklisted workers are completely united in our rejection of the firms pitiful PR stunt. Only when genuine offers are made that fully take account of the gravity of the scandal and offer jobs for blacklisted workers will there be anything to report.
There are rumours that the blacklisting firms may decide to launch a scheme on their own without the support of any of the victims. This would be like a burglar deciding what level of compensation they should pay to their victims (while at the same time avoiding court) - a travesty of justice and a complete piss take.
3. Government response to Select Committee:
The Scottish Affairs Select Committee (SASC) published a 2nd report into blacklisting in March 2014 in which the all party committee set out proposals to address the crimes of the past and move forward to best practice in the future. The main proposals are that all blacklisting firms should be barred from publicly funded contracts unless they can demonstrate that they have undergone a "self-cleansing" process in which they fully compensate those they blacklisted (a unilateral scheme without the support of the unions and the BSG is expressly condemned by the committee) and also put in place procedures to reduce the possibility of blacklisting in the future. The SASC highlight the proposals of the Welsh Assembly, Scottish government and the agreement for the Hinkley Point Power Station as best practice in this respect. The committee also calls for all publicly funded contracts to be awarded on the basis of direct employment rather than bogus zero-hour self-employment or agency workforce. The government has now responded with a letter sent to Ian Davidson, chair of the SASC by Jenny Willmott MP, minister for employment relations (attached).
BSG statement:
'Blacklisted workers owe all the MPs on the Scottish Affairs Select Committee a debt of gratitude for their investigation that has exposed the corrupt practices of the blacklisting firms. The two cross-party reports they have published are the benchmark by which all future inquiries and actions will be judged. The government's lack of empathy for blacklisted workers is evident in their response which ignores virtually all of the issues raised by the SASC and refuses to implement most of the recommendations. When it comes to the blacklisting scandal, the government appears to be more concerned about protecting their big business political-funders than bringing the human rights culprits to justice'
4. Carillion Court of Appeal date confirmed: 
The Smith v Carillion blacklisting case has now reached the Court of Appeal stage and is to be heard on 15th-16th October 2014. The written judgements from the ET & EAT stages of the case record how senior managers from various companies within the Carillion group added information to Smith's blacklist file because he was a union safety rep. Smith however lost the case because he was an agency worker and not protected by UK legislation. The case now turns entirely on the question of human rights. It should definitively determine whether blacklisting is a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights (article 8 and article 11) and whether UK law is compatible with the convention.
Smith is being represented by the Free Representation Unit but will be liable for Carilion's costs after the hearing. 
5. Blacklisted workers at Workers Memorial Day and May Day events
Blacklisted workers were out in force speaking at WMD and May Day events - thank you to everyone who represented, especially Lee Folwer in Salford, Stewart Hume in Scotland, Allan Jolley in Harlow
6. Police
More and more information about the police role in blacklisting is being discovered. One of the undercover police officers who spied on workers on the blacklist has now given an interview with investigative journalist Phil Chamberlain to be published in his book 'Blacklisted' to be published in the autumn.  Christian Khan solicitors are representing the BSG in their IPCC complaint. Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance #COPS is organising fringe meetings at major union and political conferences this summer pushing for the remit of the proposed public inquiry into undercover police spying on the Lawrence family to be widened to cover all campaigners and trade unions.  Will any of the political parties put the demand for a fully independent public inquiry into blacklisting into their election manifesto? 
7. Scottish government Procurement Bill:
Blacklist protest
13th May (1pm)
Scottish parliament
This is to ensure that a clause about blacklisting is added to the procurement bill which will allow public bodies to take blacklisting into account when awarding publicly funded contracts.
8. National Rank & File Construction Meeting:
Saturday 10th May 12pm-3pm
Casa Club
29 Hope Street
L1 9BQ
Blacklisting is on the agenda, along with the fight for direct employment among agency workers and Crossrail

9. latest Reel News DVD out now - includes Blacklisting and the exceptional 'Massacre in Vitoria' film - BSG encourage all union branches to take out an annual affiliation to Reel News and support the indy-media collective that has told the story of blacklisting like no-one else.
10. There are thousands of 'End the Blacklist' stickers suddenly appearing on building site hoardings around the country - especially next to the logos of the blacklisting firms. A prize for the best pic posted to the BSG face book page (below). Great work Martin. 

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