Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Blacklist Support Group Official Bi-AGM Report

THE Blacklist Support Group bi-annual general meeting took place in Glasgow on Saturday 7th March 2015, chaired by Roy Bentham.  Below is a summary of the main topics discussed:
1. The meeting opened with a minutes silence for blacklisted scaffolder and Shrewsbury campaigner Mick Abbott and other comrades who have passed away recently.
2. Treasurer's Report was presented by Steve Kelly and agreed by the meeting. Two new auditors were elected.
The meeting passed a message of thanks to all those individuals, union branches and organisations who have financially supported the campaign.  Without your support the BSG would be unable to operate.
3. Secretary's Report was presented by Dave Smith
Six years of campaigning led by blacklisted workers themselves has resulted in a situation where a public inquiry into the national scandal is nearly within reach. We have been campaigning for this non-stop and everyone involved should be proud of what we have achieved so far.  The publication of the 'Blacklisted' book at this time, is a conscious attempt to make blacklisting and surveillance by corporations and the police part of the General Election debate.  The media coverage about undercover police spying on trade unions generated by the book has already caused waves. The book is very much a team effort by all those involved in the Blacklist Support Group - investigative journalists, trade unions, lawyers, politicians, social justice campaigners but mostly blacklisted construction workers.  We thank you all.
The official book launch is not until Thursday 12th March in parliament - but the first people to see copies were the blacklisted workers at the BSG meeting.  A copy of 'Blacklisted' was presented to George Tapp, for his services to the campaign.  George was attending the meeting on crutches after he both his knee caps were fractured after he was dragged 100 yards down the road by a vehicle in Manchester during a protest against blacklisting.  George told the meeting that he was still suffering complications because of his head trauma.
4. Election of Committee
Brian Higgins, the Northampton based bricklayer with the largest blacklist file in the country had decided to stand down from the BSG committee but passed on his message of support.  The meeting gave Brian an ovation for the hard work he has carried out in the fight against blacklisting for over 30 years, from the Laing's Lock Out Committee to the tireless work in getting the issue raised in Europe and for his period on the national committee of the BSG. 
The newly elected committee are:  Steve Acheson, Steve Kelly, Dave Smith, Roy Bentham, Steve Kennedy, Stewart Hume
Auditors: Andy Wilkes, Steve Ballard
5. Guest Speaker - Ian Davidson MP
Ian Davidson MP, chair of the Select Committee investigation into blacklisting praised the campaigning work of the BSG and said he supports the call for a full public inquiry into blacklisting as the only way of exposing the full extent of the conspiracy.  He told the meeting that there will be a new report published before the General Election.  The Select Committee has been provided with a vast amount of new documentation relating to blacklisting that is not currently in the public domain. This will be placed on the parliament website for all to see before the Election.
The BSG gave Davidson an ovation and want to put on record our sincere gratitude for the magnificent work that he has undertaken in parliament on behalf of blacklisted workers.  The Select Committee investigation has brought blacklisting into the political mainstream and his role as chair was crucial in moving the story forward. The blacklisted workers present genuinely appreciate his efforts.
6. Crossrail
Guest speaker Helen Clifford - from Leigh Day solicitors told the meeting about the Crossrail safety issues highlighted by the narrative verdict in the Corners Court inquest into the death of Rene Tkacik on Crossrail.  A whistleblower has exposed the climate of fear on the project, where workers are worried of losing their job if they complain about safety issues but this evidence was not allowed in the inquest.  The meeting endorsed the statement from London Hazards Centre
Dan Collins - a UNITE union member from London has been sacked from Crossrail after he raised safety concerns. Originally the Costain - Skanska joint venture agreed that he should be reinstated but the two blacklisting companies have both reneged on their promise.
The BSG AGM and the construction rank & file unanimously agreed to launch a national campaign to get Dan Collins reinstated on Crossrail and improve safety on the project by allowing proper involvement of the workers.  We appeal to all our supporters to identify Crossrail, Costain & Skanska projects across the UK and organise local direct action protests.  Flyer for us in the campaign is attached. Post reports and pix of any actions on social media under the hashtag #crossfail
Planned Protests:
7am Wed 11th March - Bond Street tube
5:30pm Friday 13th March - Bond Street tube
6pm Wed 18 March - Construction News Awards - Hilton, Park Lane. 
7. The meeting sent a message of support to the PCS union and victimised National Gallery rep Candy Unwin. 
8. We went to the pub - and raised a glass (or two) to absent friends.

Blacklist Support Group

No comments: