THE group litigation blacklist High Court trial originally scheduled to start today (Monday 9th May) has settled following last minute increased compensation offers by the 8 major construction companies at the heart of the scandal. Additional offers were made to blacklisted workers represented by Unite the Union late on Friday. A hastily called hearing will now take place on Wednesday 11th May at which a public apology and admissions about the firms involvement in the Consulting Association secret conspiracy will be read out in open court.
The total figure for compensation paid out by the blacklisting firms is estimated at £50million with an additional £200 million worth of legal costs for the different legal teams involved. The defendants are: Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI - No doubt shareholders and non-executive directors will be asking questions about those responsible for this big hit to the bottom line.
Dave Smith - secretary Blacklist Support Group commented:
'Despite all of the denials and attempts to cover up their secret conspiracy, the largest multinationals in the construction sector have been forced to to pay out millions in compensation. Make no mistake, the High Court action is a historic victory for the trade union movement against the vicious face of free market capitalism.
The blacklist firms might have hoped that by buying their way out of a show trial, that the scandal that has disgraced an entire industry will go away: it won't. Blacklisting is a human rights conspiracy against trade unionism by big business and shady anti-democratic political policing units within the British state.
These fat cats and their friends in the police took food off of our children's table, causing years of family hardship.
We take this personally. A few quid and a mealy mouthed apology is a long way from justice. We intend to continue our fight to expose those who orchestrated and colluded with blacklisting. In any civilized society, the wretches would be in jail by now.
Blacklist Support Group would like to pay tribute to all the legal teams who have taken us this
far, especially Guney Clark & Ryan solicitors who have been working with us since the blacklist
was discovered in 2009. Without the ground breaking work by GCR, there would never have been any High Court litigation at all.'
High Court Photo-Opportunity
Blacklist Support Group
9:15am Wednesday 11th May
UNITE the Union press release:
THE biggest 'blacklisting' scandal in UK construction industry history has seen the court case end in victory as 256 workers are set to receive more than £10 million in compensation. Construction ‘blacklisting’ victory sees £10 million pay-out to 256 workers.Unite, the country's biggest union, said today (Monday 9 May) that the pay-outs could range from £25,000 up to £200,000 per claimant, depending on such factors as the loss of income and the seriousness of the defamation.
Unite’s determined legal stance last week resulted in a further £4 million for 97 of the 256 claimants, whose original compensation offers the union deemed inadequate. This brought the total compensation package to £10,435,000.
Unite waged a five-year fight, following the election of Len McCluskey as general secretary of Unite, against household names, such as Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd and Balfour Beatty Engineering Services as well as more than 30 other firms, which were part of a blacklisting conspiracy that saw hundreds of workers lose those jobs and have their lives ruined for carrying out legitimate trade union activities, such as health and safety.
At the centre of the scandal were the machinations of the secretive Consulting Association which was raided by the Information Commissioner in 2009.
Today (Monday 9 May) Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said:
‘The massive scale of the agreed damages - more than £10 million - shows the gravity of the misdeeds of these major construction companies which created and used the Consulting Group
as a vehicle to enable them to blacklist trade unionists on behalf of more than 30 construction companies.
‘The sums to be paid out go a considerable way to acknowledge the hurt, suffering and loss of income our members and their families have been through over many years.
‘Under the agreement they can once more apply for jobs in the construction industry without fear of discrimination.
'This settlement is a clear statement on behalf of the trade union movement that never again can such nefarious activities be allowed to happen against decent working people trying to earn an honest living in a tough industry.
‘The message is clear that there can never be any hiding place for bosses in the construction and any other industry thinking of reverting to shameful blacklisting practices against committed trade unionists.’
Unite director of legal services Howard Beckett said:
‘Unite is proud to have fought right to the end to get the maximum we believed was possible against companies that had to be dragged kicking and screaming to make unprecedented admissions of guilt last October.
‘In addition to financial compensation, admissions of guilt and formal apologies, the companies have agreed, as a result of this litigation, to issue guidance to site managers to ensure blacklisting is not occurring on a local level and to ensure that Unite members receive no less favourable treatment for job applications, as a result of this litigation.
‘However, what remains outstanding from the agreement is the legislative definition of blacklisting, as outlined in the Employment Relations Act 1999 (Blacklisting) Regulations 2010.‘We view the secret vetting operation carried out by the Consulting Association as a blacklist, and hence in contravention of the Act. This is the core reason as to why these companies should be answerable to a public inquiry and why the Westminster and the devolved governments should continue to ask serious questions of these companies before they are engaged for public contracts.
‘Finally, Unite would like to thank its legal team – Anthony Hudson QC at Matrix; Ben Cooper, counsel at Old Square and Richard Arthur and his team at Thompsons Solicitors – who stood should to shoulder with the trade union movement during this lengthy - and ultimately victorious - landmark case.’
The Unite case centred on a number of key legal issues, including defamation, breaches of the 1988 Data Protection Act, conspiracy and misuse of private information.
Blacklist Support Group