Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Update on Blacklist Campaign

1. Blacklisting makes the General Election manifestos
"Some sectors and occupations have particular issues of concern that need to be addressed, such as the problems of false self-employment and blacklisting uncovered by recent investigations. Self-employment is a vital part of our economy, but there is evidence that in some cases it is being wrongly used to avoid tax and employment rights, notably in the construction industry. Labour will tackle bogus self employment in construction and a set up a full inquiry that is transparent and public to examine the issue of blacklisting. Recognising historic cases, we will release all papers concerning the ‘Shrewsbury 24’ trials". 

'End Blacklisting - We will set up a full investigation into blacklisting in the construction industry and consider the creation of a new criminal offence.'

Plaid Cymru:
'Plaid Cymru will legislate against blacklisting'  

'Fully independent public inquiry into police collusion in the scandal of blacklisting'

Blacklisting firms fund the Tories

2. Public Inquiry 
Blacklisted workers continue to campaign for a fully independent public inquiry into the blacklisting scandal and for a public inquiry into the role of undercover police spying on trade unions and other peaceful democratic campaigners. Teresa May has announced a public inquiry into police spying. Labour & Greens have pledged some kind of inquiry / investigation into the blacklisting scandal. Professor Keith Ewing (long time friend & supporter of the Blacklist Support Group) asks whether the proposed inquires will go far enough and actually uncover the full story of police spying on trade unions. 
3. Blacklisted Book reviews and tour dates 
Reviews by blacklisted workers Brian Higgins and Pete Shaw in the UK and others around the world

Blacklisted Book Tour Dates
Tues 21st - London - Bookmarks (6:30pm)
Sat 25th - SWTUC - Devon 
Sun 26th - CWU conference Bournemouth with Billy Hayes (12:30) 
Tues 28th - Liverpool - Jack Jones House, Unite offices (6pm) 
Wed 29th - Liverpool - News from Nowhere (am) 
Wed 29th - Leeds Trades Council public meeting Swathmore Centre (7pm)
Fri 1st - Manchester, Kings Arms Salford (6pm)
Mon 4th - Kent Workers Festival, Aylesham  
Wed 13th  - FBU conference Blackpool with Matt Wrack  (5:30pm) 
Thur 14th  - Bristol - Tony Benn House, Unite office (6pm) 
Fri 15th  - Bristol - UWE CESR seminar (2pm)
Sat 16th - London - Bishopsgate Institute 
Wed 20th - Nottingham - Five Leaves Books (7pm) 
Wed 10th - GMB conference Dublin 
Thur 25th - Glastonbury Festival 
Fri 10th - Durham Miners Gala - NUM office Redhills, pre-festival events(5pm)   
Sat 18th - Tolpuddle Festival  

Any other trades councils, festival stages or conferences else wanting a speaker please feel free to contact us. 
Please keep posting your photos of people reading the book to facebook and twitter with the hashtag #blacklistedbook 

4. United We Stand 
The brilliant play about the Shrewsbury Pickets continues its UK tour in the run up to the General Election.  If you haven't seen this play yet - book your ticket asap.

5. Blacklisting in the airline sector
Victoria Weldon
AN aircraft engineer who claims he was sacked after raising safety concerns over procedures at British Airways is suing the airline for unfair dismissal.

John Higgins, who worked as an aircraft maintenance supervisor for the firm, claims he made protected disclosures to BA and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) over who was allowed to sign off on work carried out on aircraft.

Mr Higgins, from High Blantyre in South Lanarkshire, had a 27-year unblemished career with the airline. He was dismissed when he installed the wrong part on a plane at British Airways Maintenance Glasgow (BAMG) in March last year.

He claims he made the mistake because he was under extreme pressure due to staffing problems, an excessive workload and unreasonable timescales and said the error 'did not compromise the safe operation of the aircraft.'

However, BA found that it did and dismissed him before offering him a demoted post on appeal - a proposal which Mr Higgins rejected, leaving him to resign.

In a written statement submitted to an employment tribunal in Glasgow, Mr Higgins - who now works for Monarch Airlines - said: "I raised concerns during 2006 and 2007 that BA was not complying with full safety requirements in carrying out their aircraft maintenance.
"The disclosure I made was that at my workplace of British Airways, 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the aircraft maintenance work was not being performed in strict compliance with CAA and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) safety provisions.
'It was my belief that this was a serious safety lapse which could potentially result in fatalities.'

Mr Higgins claimed he met with CAA officials to discuss his concerns, resulting in them issuing seven findings of failure against BA and an EASA working group being set up to look at the issue.

However lawyer Samantha Cooper, acting for BA, suggested that neither were directly linked to Mr Higgins's alleged disclosure.  Miss Cooper also suggested there was no basis for him to allege that the approach taken by BA was contrary to regulations.

Mr Higgins replied: 'I saw flaws with it.'

BA manager Stuart McMahon said he had checked with the CAA and they had no record of Mr Higgins's disclosures, however he accepted under cross-examination that this did not mean they had not been made.

The tribunal was told that BAMG was seriously short-staffed on March 1 and 2 last year when Mr Higgins was overseeing contractors working on an Airbus A321.

One of the contractors damaged a wire and Mr Higgins repaired it with a splice which turned out to be the wrong one.

When he returned to work later that week he was suspended and claims he was told by a manager:
'I am so sorry. I can't have another Air Malaysian situation here and need to send you home.'

BA argue that the repair Mr Higgins carried out was important to the safety of the plane. They also claim he did not properly record the repair and failed to pick up on poor wiring by a contractor.

Miss Cooper put it to the engineer that supervisors had told him to just do what he could on the days in question. He said he had tried to do that.
She accused Mr Higgins of being reckless and he replied: 'I don't agree with that.'
He added:  'I did the best I could under the circumstances.'

The tribunal also heard from BA manager Brian Queally who took the decision to dismiss Mr Higgins.  In a written statement, he said staff are never expected to 'cut corners" due to time pressures, adding: "The potential impact of the claimant's use of the incorrect splice was huge. If the splice failed it could have affected the correct functioning of the landing gear, resulting in a potential catastrophic incident.'

The manager also said he had no knowledge of Mr Higgins's disclosures about safety concerns prior to dismissing him.

The tribunal, before Employment Judge Susan Walker, continues.

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