Monday, 6 June 2016

'Builders crack' & Private Eye

THE current issue of Private Eye reports that '... after its dirty employment tricks were exposed, the (British) construction industry has finally - if reluctantly - agreed to cough up £75 m to settle the claim brought by hundreds of people who were unable to find work because they were on an illegal blacklist (Eyes passim).
'Hundred of victims are to receive between £20,000 and £200,000 for having their livelihoods blighted because they protested about safety or working conditions, or simply because of their trade union activities.... 
'Companies funded Ian Kerr, who had worked for the (Economic) League and who set up the Consulting Association to hold blacklisting files which also featured troublesome politicians, journalists, lawyers, and academics.  The full scale of the operation was exposed in 2009, when the Information Commissioner's Office seized files and shut down Kerr's outfit.  (Even then the practice continued, however.)
'As Roy Bentham, a carpenter blacklisted since 1995, told the Eye:  "They finally made us an offer we could not refuse, because of the threat of astronomical legal costs.  But it was to save their reputations; it wasn't about justice.'  As a Hillsborough survivor, he knows all about justice.  "It's about getting to the truth.  We want to know exactly who did what and who we ended up on the dole". 
'Despite the group apology from Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O'Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK, and Vinci (companies involved since the 1990s), the Blacklisting Support Group cast doubt on its sincerity.  After all, the firms could have put their hands up when the Information Commissioner caught them red-handed...
'Nor is it lost on the workers that the companies preferred to pay fees to ranks of lawyers to protect corporate reputations and defeat claims, rather than offer reasonable compensation.  The legal costs for the case are estimated to total about £50 m for both sides - nearly the size of the compensation bill itself....
'Lawyers for the companies told the court they hoped the apology meant "this matter can be treated as a closed chapter".  Not so:  the blacklisting victims allege that some senior executives were involved in destroying evidence and a cover-up.  A detailed dossier alleging perversion of the course of justice is being prepared.  The victims may still have their day in court.'

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