Saturday, 30 November 2013

Blacklist High Court Case Delayed

AN application to roll all four High Court blacklisting cases into one ‘super case’ was today postponed by a judge until Spring. Hugh Tomlinson QC of Matrix Chambers - acting on behalf of the original claim brought on behalf of 79 workers by solicitor Guney Clark & Ryan - was joined at a hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice by barristers acting for three other newer claims of a similar nature brought by three separate trade unions - the GMB union, Ucatt and Unite - on behalf of their members who allege they were blacklisted. All four are compensation claims made against major contractors which employed the services of blacklisting firm the Consulting Association until it was raided and closed down in 2009. Tomlinson - famous for his privacy work on behalf of celebrities and for co-founding the Hacked Off phone hacking campaign – made an application for a group litigation order (GLO) which would permit the four cases to be managed collectively. But the court’s senior master Steven Whitaker suggested that the two newest cases - which were launched by Ucatt and Unite earlier this month – are not sufficiently advanced and ruled that the he would make the GLO next April. Several major contractors are defendents in the cases but only one - Skanska - was represented at today’s hearing. Blacklisting High Court cases put back to Court’s senior master postpones application to roll all four High Court compensation claims into one.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Knowl View Whistleblower Chased by Law Firm

MARTIN Digan the whistleblower who outed the scandal of sexual abuse against lads at Knowl View in the 1980s and 1990s has been hunted down by a legal firm DWF LLP, who claim that they are acting on behalf of the insurers of Rochdale Council.  This legal firm have asked that a dossier of records relating to Knowl View is returned to the local authority.

Mr Diggan has told the Rochdale Observer that he was shocked to get a letter from the legal firm DWF LLP and said:
'In the first instance I've never admitted to having any documents' and that 'under no circumstances would I give someone that I don't know information about sexual abuse of children.  Rochdale council already have the information that they are asking for - I don't know what game they're playing.'

Since recent revelations of abuse in Rochdale was brought out last year the Manchester law firm Pannone has been contacting some of the alleged victims, and they are looking into how and why the abuse was allowed to happen.  The law firm Pannone, with an office on Deansgate in Manchester, has a team of expert abuse solicitors which specialise in all types of sexual, physical and child abuse claims. 

The documents in the dossier are said to show how young lads were put at risk of Aids through prostitution and relationships with well-known sex offenders, after being taken into Manchester to meet men who would pay to have sex with them.

Why this pursuit of Mr. Digan is happening now is not clear.  In Rochdale, a council spokesperson told tomorrow's Rochdale Observer:
'The council is in discussions with the police on this matter and is therefore unable to comment further.'

Blacklist Protest Today at High Court

Blacklisting protest at the High Court
9am - 10am Friday 29th November 2013
Royal Courts of Justice
The Strand
Organised by: Blacklist Support Group 
Workers blacklisted in the construction industry for raising concerns about safety issues or being members of a trade union will be protesting outside the High Court on Friday morning. The protest is to coincide with the first hearing in the High Court claim being brought by Guney, Clark & Ryan solicitors on behalf of nearly 100 claimants (Steve Acheson & others v Sir Robert McAlpine & others). Counsel in the claim is Sir Hugh Tomlinson QC and is supported by the Blacklist Support Group.
The full list of defenent companies are: Sir Robert McAlpine, Balfour Beatty, BAM, Carillion, Costain, Laing, Kier Ltd, Skanska, Vinci, Taylor Woodrow and AMEC. Evidence from the Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigation into blacklisting has shown that the individuals who ran the blacklist were directors of these companies including Cullum McAlpine, founding chairamn of the Consulting Association blacklist. Decisions about the illegal blacklist were discussed and agreed at Board level. 
Steve Acheson, lead claimant and chair of the Blacklist Support Group said:
'Its amazing how these millionaires can sit round tables and make judgements that affect lives on a permanent basis and that's acceptable despite the laws it breaks. Yet blow up a giant inflatable rat and all hell is let loose in the press.  These directors have worked outside the law and breached our human rights. They know what they have done wrong and what they were inflicting on thousands of families and I would like to see some of these face prison sentences.'

Photo of Steve Acheson at High Court attached (credit: Mick Holder NUJ)
On the 29th November 2013, the first ever High Court hearing in relation to “blacklisting” within the construction industry will take place. This hearing relates to the High Court claim brought by Guney, Clark & Ryan on behalf of 79 individuals. Those individuals and Guney, Clark & Ryan have worked tirelessly over the past 4 years in pursuit of justice for those who have suffered due to having been placed on a blacklist. Guney, Clark & Ryan issued the claim on 20th March 2012 against Sir Robert McAlpine. In seeking to defend that claim, they have added as co-defendants 10 of the other major construction companies in the UK namely, Balfour Beatty, BAM , Carillion, Costain, Laing, Kier Ltd, Skanska, Vinci, Taylor Woodrow and AMEC
Until very recently, there had been little or no support from the trades unions, of which many of those individuals who are bringing the claim belong. Indeed it is only because of the hard work and dedication of these Claimants and Guney, Clark & Ryan in progressing their High Court claim against the face of so much opposition, that the Unions had to sit up, take notice and take action. As a result, with much media fanfare, the GMB in June 2013, UNITE in November 2013 and UCATT in November 2013 have all now also issued High Court claims of their own, and are running media campaigns highlighting their “fight” for justice for blacklisted workers despite years of previous inaction.
A recent development has been an announcement by 8 of the construction companies involved in the High Court action initiated by Guney, Clark & Ryan to set up a compensation scheme, the Construction Workers Compensation Scheme (TCWCS). This is only in its infancy and a very basic draft framework of the proposals was sent out to interested parties including the trades unions. This has led to some inaccurate press reports of individuals being offered compensation ranging from £1000 up to £100,000. Not one of the 79 individuals bringing the High Court claim, nor any of the other 100-plus potential claimants that Guney, Clark & Ryan are advising have been made any offer, nor is it expected that any such offers will be made in the near future.

Lastly, after four and a half years of pressure, the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has finally confirmed that they will now write directly to 1200 individuals named on the blacklist. However, somewhat incomprehensibly, the ICO (an ostensibly neutral government body) when writing to these individuals will direct them to the Construction Workers Compensation Scheme (TWCS), referred to above, which is run by the very people who blacklisted them in the first place. The fact that the ICO is willing to direct victims to these firms clearly calls into question their supposed impartiality. It is worth remembering that, to date, the ICO has not taken any criminal legal action against a single blacklisting firm despite mountains of documentary evidence that they have repeatedly and consistently broken the law.
Blacklist Support Group

Bristol Events

The 'Game of Drones' + 'Unmanned'
Game of Drones: The President and the White House Fly (Handsome Dog Productions, 2013). Investigative poem on topical issue of ‘Unmanned Aerial Vehicles’. Written by Heathcote Williams; Narration and Montage by Alan Cox; produced by Margaret Cox. Screening will be introduced by anti-Drone campaigner John from Bath Activist Network.
Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars.
Director Robert Greenwald’s brand new film documentary premiered 30th October 2013. Mary Dobbing, researcher with Drone Wars UK, will introduce the film and talk about the UK’s use of drones in Afghanistan.
More at:

Why was Charles I executed?
Justice, liberties and popular petitioning in 1648-49


The regicide of 1649 has often been presented by books, articles and TV dons as the result of religious beliefs related to the King's role as a 'Man of Blood', whose own blood must be shed to deliver England from the taint of killing and the fear of God's vengeance. However the evidence suggests a far more sophisticated political response rooted in the concepts of 'Justice and Liberties' displayed in both public and military petitions. 'Justice' signified what we would now call war crimes trials (and not just of the king), while the word 'liberties' was used at the time to describe far-reaching and permanent constitutional reforms. Norah Carlin will present her new research into this fascinating period, when not only the monarchy but the Parliament which had sat for the past eight years were confronted for their crimes.
More at:
Bristol Local History Book Fair

A new initiative from Bristol Record Office bringing together local history publishers and speakers. BRHG will be running a bookstall along with many others.


1.30pm William Fairney: Humphrey Davy
2.30pm Mark Steeds: Wulfstan and Clarkson
3.30pm Lucienne Boyce: The Bristol SuffragettesMore at:
Remembering the Real WWI: Public meeting (#2)
Date: Tuesday 10th December, 2013
Time: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Venue: Hydra Bookshop, 34 Old Market St, Bristol, BS2 0EZ
Price: Free
This is the second meeting in Bristol to discuss opposition to David Cameron's 'truly national commemoration' of WW1 stressing our 'national spirit'.
Nationally there are plans to ensure that attention is given to the real causes and effects of the war, rather than an opportunity for our government to re-habilitate this war in particular or war in general. Bristol has long radical traditions and we know there are groups and individuals across the city who will want to ensure that there are events locally remembering the reality of World War 1. We want to facilitate this. We want to encourage the widest possible range and number of events – meetings, music, theatre, film, exhibitions etc. What might be organised (and how) will largely be determined by the individuals and groups who get involved. The involvement of a wide spectrum of people and groups will ensure a greater cross-fertilisation of ideas; events can be publicised more widely; and they can reach a wider audience. So if you are interested in participating please come along to this meeting.

This meeting is jointly organised by Bristol Stop the War Coalition and Bristol Radical History Group.

_______________________________________________ Brhmob mailing list

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Blacklist Update

1.  High Court Claim
The first hearing in the first ever High Court claim for blacklisting as an "unlawful conspiracy" takes place on Friday. The claim is being brought by Guney, Clark & Ryan solicitors (GCR) who have been preparing this case since 2009 on behalf of nearly 100 blacklisted workers and is the legal challenge fully supported by the Blacklist Support Group.
Come along and support the campaign - wear your "BLACKLISTED" T-shirts for the press photos. 
High Court Blacklisting Protest (press photo-opportunity)
9am Friday 29th November 2013
High Court
The Strand
If you are a blacklisted worker and wish to get more info about the GCR High Court claim contact: Liam Dunne
2. Day of Action on Blacklisting - more pix & vids
I think everyone is over the moon about what happened last week. Often, these kind of events are a bit of a damp squib but November 20th saw genuine rank and file civil disobedience protests across the country, lobbies of parliaments in Westminster, Edinburgh and Cardiff.  (An anti-blacklist protest also took place in central Manchester outside Manchester Town Hall called by the Greater Manchester Contracting Branch of Unite, and supported by many local blacklisted electricians, George Tapp, Tameside TUC and other members of Unite and Ucatt).  There were also major announcements about blacklisting from Ed Milliband, Scottish government, the ICO, UCATT and UNITE.
You can support the blacklisting campaign by distributing these videos to your mailing lists and sharing on social media. This really makes a difference.
Videos: - great stuff from Reel News: London civil disobedience & House of Commons together. Reel News are massive supporters of BSG and we urge every union branch to take out an annual subscription to keep them going.
3. Public Inquiry
Ed Milliband and Chuka Umunna both pledged an incoming Labour government to hold an inquiry into the blacklisting scandal (see Reel News video above).
Blacklist Support Group, Francess O'Grady and all 3 main unions involved say this is not enough - we demand a fully independent public inquiry to expose the full conspiracy (not some half-hearted thing done by BIS).
4. ICO letter to workers on the blacklist
Five years after seizing the blacklist, the ICO are now finally sending letters to 1200 individuals where they hold addresses and national insurance numbers, something activists and unions have argued for all along. The ICO letter has however been condemned by victims and unions alike as it directs these workers, who in many cases have no idea that there name appears on the Consulting Association database, to the blacklist compensation scheme set up by the very companies who blacklisted them in the first place. The BSG complaint describes this as  'like sending the victims of crime to the criminals to receive justice.' 
The Information Commissioners Office has now suspended sending letters to individuals whose names appear on the Consulting Association database following a complaint by the Blacklist Support Group (BSG). The BSG complaint condemns the actions of the ICO and describes how "From being the champions of blacklisted workers, the ICO is now a barrier in our path to achieve justice". The ICO has now agreed to place details of the Blacklist Support Group on the ICO website and in any future correspondence with those whose names appear on the blacklist. 
Liam Dunne (GCR) said
'We are dismayed that the Information Commissioners Office have sent “fact sheets” directing victims to the Construction Workers Compensation Scheme (TWCS), which is run by the very people who blacklisted them in the first place and at this point has not been approved of by any of the stakeholders involved.
5. Blacklisting campaigners win awards: Congratulations to:
Will Hurst from Building magazine - winner of 2 awards in the IBP Press awards for his investigative journalism on the issue of Blacklisting - Will broke a number of the stories that later made the mainstream media especially relating to Crossrail. 
Welsh Assembly - for their strong stand on blacklisting - banning blacklisting firms from public contracts. 
Blacklist Support Group - (YES, THAT'S US) - we won the Robert Tressell Award for services to working people at the Construction Safety Campaign AGM. "The families and partners of blacklisted workers and activists" were also awarded a special Robert Tressell Award for their support. They truly are the wind beneath our wings.

The current printed issue of NORTHERN VOICES No.14, is now available for sale at all our usual outlets in the North of England and beyond - see below. This issue N.V.14 has a Tameside Eye story about how Tameside has a history of involvement in blacklisting, it also contains an interview by Barry Woodling with George Tapp - the Salford electrician injured in May on an anti-blacklist picket. The Voices has been in the forthfront of the campaign against the blacklist since 2003 and the DAF dispute at Manchester Piccadilly, its editor, an electrician, was on the blacklist of the Economic League in the 1960s, and there was an attempt to blacklist him while he was working in Gibraltar in both 1964 and 1967, but at the time this intervention by the Foreign Office was resisted by the Gibraltarian authorities, and the Gibraltar Transport & General Workers Union.
Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included). Cheques made payable to 'Northern Voices' should be sent c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.

Monday, 25 November 2013

'Bad Boy' Barry Banned by Bookfair

'Anti-Semite' but oh too Jewish!
USING a splendid piece of politically twisted logic the organisers of the Manchester & Salford Anarchist Bookfair have now seemingly banned the anarchist Barry Woodling because of certain utterances he is alleged to have made about the cost of a funeral that took place years ago.  Now the story is not that Barry was 'anti-Semite' (an absurd suggestion given his noble ancestors of the Jewish faith), as alleged by the 'organiser' who uses the pseudonym 'Veg' when he had Barry ejected from last year's bookfair, but rather that Barry may or may not have tastelessly ventured an opinion on the high cost of a social function such as a funeral.   

Clearly it is theoretically possible to accuse someone who is Jewish, like Prof. Noam Chomsky, of being 'anti-Semite' because of their negative attitude to the State of Israel, and Chomsky has had much to say about this.    But to suggest that a Jew or anyone else can't wonder about the cost of something without fear of retribution takes us into the realms of the Spanish Inquisition and George Orwell's '1984' and the 'thought police'

Last Saturday, I went to the Manchester Anarchist Bookfair merely to drop off a few copies of Northern Voices with a book dealer before going to attend the Rank & File conference of construction workers at the Mechanics Institute at noon.  What did I find having greeted two of the organisers and entered the arena of the bookfair itself was that I was grabbed by the arm from behind and I turned to find that the pale-face one calling himself 'Veg' (aka Vegetable) had hold of me in what I suppose was a citizen's arrest.  I indicated my displeasure and he detached himself from me.  The person who I recognised as the organiser-in-chief (Mr. Under-the-Pavement) then strode up and confirmed that 'Veg' was indeed an 'organiser', and as 'Mr. Under-the-Pavement' beckoned us we all adjourned to the entrance area; where I was told that as I was a friend of Barry Woodling and that Barry had caused some people some offence a year ago that I too 'was not welcome' at the Bookfair for fear that my presence, owing to my friendship with Barry, may upset others at the Bookfair. 

What is this world that English anarchists are living in: Alice-in-Wonderland or '1984'?  The poet Shelley wrote about frail and fragile plants, but there can be few so touchy or fragile as those who venture to go to the Manchester & Salford Bookfair.  What is the rational for this perculiar behaviour for it suggests a small-minded mentality of small groups, as the only way small groups can feel important and bigger is by excluding others from their number.  So it was that only last month questions were raised on the Bookfair website about whether the International Brigade Memorial Trust (IBMT) should be welcome at the Bookfair or banned, in the event the IBMT was accepted, but others have been excluded over the years not just the Northern Anarchist Network (NAN) and Mr. Barry Woodling. 

Union to sue firms over blacklisting

THE union UCATT has drawn up list of companies it says are guilty of breach of confidence and misuse of private information
Ucatt says companies wilfully destroyed the lives of ordinary construction workers. Photograph: Frank Baron for the Guardian.
Some of Britain's biggest construction firms are to face fresh legal action over the way in which they allegedly blacklisted union activists for years.
Construction union Ucatt announced it was to sue the firms for breach of confidence and misuse of private information found in their files, the only option it says is available.
The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said this week he was deeply disturbed by reports of blacklisting and said the practice could be examined in the government's six-month review of industrial relations announced at the weekend.
The union launched the court cases to coincide with the TUC's anti-blacklisting day of action which takes place on Wednesday. It has employed the services of Mark Warby QC, a leading expert on privacy law, to take the cases on behalf of its members. A hearing is expected this week.
Ucatt is initially taking action against Balfour Beatty, Bam, CB&I, Costain, Carillion, Laing O'Rourke, Lend Lease, Sir Robert McAlpine and Vinci. It expects the list of companies to grow as more workers come forward to take action.
Ucatt is also to commence legal action against one of the former chairs of the Consulting Association, which held information, and a senior human resources manager for a blacklisting company. His name is being withheld at this stage for legal reasons.
Some construction firms, including some being joined to this legal action, have announced they have opened a compensation scheme to provide redress for construction workers. However, the union has raised a series of objections to the scheme, saying that it litigants are forced to accept gagging clauses, a refusal by the construction firms to accept liability and the fact that some offers will start as low as £1,000.
Steve Murphy, general secretary of Ucatt, said:
'Blacklisting companies wilfully destroyed the lives of ordinary construction workers and acted as though they were above the law. Our legal action will ensure that the victims receive the justice they deserve.'
The Labour government significantly tightened the law on blacklisting in 2010 after files were seized showing the true scale of the blacklisting undertaken by construction firms. They revealed a database of 3,000 names used to vet construction workers for more than 15 years.
Meanwhile, to mark the TUC's day of action against blacklisting, Ucatt is holding demonstrations outside construction sites and offices operated by Sir Robert McAlpine. McAlpine was the company most closely involved with the Consulting Association. It provided the first and last chairman; it paid the association's winding up costs in its final year of operation and it was the second highest user of its blacklisting service, spending £26,842.20.
Despite this leading role, Sir Robert McAlpine was not prosecuted by the Information Commissioner's Office and was not served with an enforcement notice.
Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd said in a statement it had never operated a blacklist:
'We are, and have always been, wholly committed to maintaining good relationships with our workforce and to responsible trade unionism. We recognise and respect the rights of workers to observe a day of actionWe have apologised for our involvement with The Consulting Association and the impact that its records may have had on any individual worker. We have joined with seven other construction companies to form the Construction Workers Compensation Scheme which is intended to make it as simple as possible for any worker with a legitimate claim to access compensation.'

Friday, 22 November 2013

Scottish Ban on Blacklists!

BLACKLIST Support Group (BSG) applaud the Scottish government for their announcement to ban blacklisting firms from public contracts. The announcement made by First Minister Alex Salmond in the Scottish parliament on the TUC Day of Action says that blacklisting firms will be denied contracts if they refuse to compensate victims.

Clauses in proposed new contracts being introduced under the Procurement Bill also allow for contracts to be terminated early if they firms are found to have broken the law relating to blacklisting midway through any contracts. Alex Salmond quote: 'The Scottish government is opposed to blacklisting in any form, given the serious impact it can have on the career, livelihoods and lives of those affected. Companies awarded public contracts must maintain high standards of business and professional conduct. Everyone has a right to work and to raise concerns, including through a union. They should not expect to be inhibited in any way by choosing to exercise these rights. We are making it absolutely clear to any company wishing to tender to supply, build or service parts of our national infrastructure, or to deliver our public goods and services, that blacklisting will not be tolerated and that they face being excluded from bidding for public contracts if found to be taking part in this unacceptable practice. The new guidance - see attachment - will apply to Scotland’s standard Pre-Qualification Questionaire (sPQQ) and will also form part of a new contract clause in standard terms and conditions, allowing for the termination of a contract if a supplier is found to have breached relevant legislation during the course of that contract.'

The guidance includes examples of remedial steps which firms involved in blacklisting need to have taken including an 'appropriate apology', paying compensation and taking 'concrete, technical, organisational and personnel measures that are appropriate to prevent further criminal offence or misconduct'.

Willie Black (BSG) - Edinburgh based blacklisted construction worker was at the Scottish parliament on Wednesday said: 'The blacklisting of safety reps by building cntractors shows that these ratbags put profits ahead of safety of workers on construction sites. People have died because of their actions. Banning blacklisting firms from all public contracts will cost them billions. Perhaps now they will start to understand the impact their vile conspiracy has had on honest trade unionists standing up for their fellow workers. But if the blacklisting companies think a half hearted apology is going to stop our campaign they are very much mistaken. We will be back again and again until we get justice.'

The Scottish announcement mirrors action already taken by Wales earlier in the year, which resulted in the Welsh Government being nominated for an award at the Liberty Human Rights Awards on Monday because of the stance they have taken on blacklisting. Blacklist Support Group video: blog: facebook:

Blacklist Support Group Report

1. TUC Day of Action on Blacklisting Round of Applause to everyone who participated in the Blacklisting Day of Action on November 20th. There were protests, occupations, road blockades and lobbies of parliament across the UK - too many to mention them all. It worked so much better by having dozens of genuine grass roots events rather than one single official protest in London. Loads of blacklisted workers got on the radio, TV plus national & local newspapers. So whether your event was two people giving out flyers or hundreds blockading the main road outside the Houses of Parliamen - Thank You. Thank you to John McDonnell MP, Jim Sheridan MP, Ian Davidson MP and Neil Findlay MSP for chairing meetings for blacklisted workers in the Westminster and Scottish parliaments. Both Ed Milliband and Chuka Umunna MP - pledged an inquiry from the next Labour government - Blacklisted workers want a fully independent public inquiry. If anyone has any reports, photos, TV clips or videos of protests - please post to the Blacklist Support Group facebook page or else share on social media with the hashtags #blacklisting #N20 #BSG Special mention of the Leeds protest where two blacklisted workers, Pete Shaw and Sandy MacPherson were both assaulted by an aggressive security guard in an unprovoked attack at Sir Robert McAlpine offices. Despite being battered and hospitalised - both Pete and Sandy are now both OK. Pix of day of Action: Video: 2. High Court Claims: On the Day of Action UNITE and UCATT both announced their intention of taking High Court claims on behalf of their members. This brings the number of High Court claims to four in total. The GMB have already submitted their claim earlier in the summer and the lead claim by Guney Clark & Ryan (GCR) solicitors, supported by the Blacklist Support Group has been running for over 4 years now. The first ever hearing in a High Court blacklisting claim will be the GCR case on Friday 29th November. This will be a hearing to determine how the cases will be run, what are the main legal points to be argued etc.. It is likely that there will be a court order that says that all 4 High Court cases will be heard at the same time. They would remain 4 separate claims, with 4 separate legal teams representing different clients but there would only be one physical court case. The Blacklist Support Group will be holding a protest outside the High Court in the Strand on Friday 29th November. Everyone welcome. If you have a BLACKLISTED T-shirts, please bring it along to wear for the photo-opportunity. 3. Scottish Government announcement: On the Day of Action the Scottish government published plans to refuse public contracts to blacklisting firms. This step has only came about because of the fantastic campaigning by the Scottish blacklisted workers. 4. Blacklist Compensation Scheme: The latest update on the blacklist compensation scheme is that all 3 unions and the BSG have sent a joint letter making it clear that the compensation scheme is not acceptable to blacklisted workers. Whilst everyone thinks an industry funded compensation scheme is a good idea, the present proposals are simply a PR stunt intended to deflect attention away from the High Court claims or even an attempt to delay the legal process altogether. We are prepared to negotiate with the scheme but do not intend to pause any of our legal claims for something that in its current state is worthless. The various legal teams including Guney, Clark & Ryan solicitors are also in discussions with the compensation scheme. Our red lines are: Everyone on the Consulting Association blacklist to be compensated Jobs for blacklisted workers on major projects - including costs for retraining if needed Compensation to fully represent the loss of earnings and severity of the human rights violations No Gagging Clause - we still want a full public inquiry Even if some blacklisted workers are only interested in financial compensation - BSG advice is to have nothing to do with the employers blacklist compensation scheme - because the final offers they make will be massively better than the insulting £1000 they expect to give to most people at the moment. 5. Information Commissioner's Office announcement: After 4 and a half years, the ICO has finally decided to do what they should have done in the very first week of seizing the files and send a letter to everyone with a blacklist file where they have a name, address or national Insurance number. This means another 1200 letters should be sent out in the next few weeks and many more workers will receive their files. The ICO letter directs people to the employers blacklisting compensation scheme: the very people who blacklisted them in the first place. This beggars belief. The ICO has not taken legal action against a single blacklisting firm despite mountains of documentary evidence that they have broken the law. And now they are directing the victims of crime to the perpetrators of the crime. The fact that the ICO is willing to direct victims to the firms but not to the Blacklist Support Group which has led the campaign for justice and acts as a support network for blacklisted workers speaks volumes. It is an outrage and calls into question the supposed impartiality of the ICO. 6. The government has announced an inquiry into the leverage tactics used by UNITE the Union in various industrial disputes including Crossrail, BESNA and Grangemouth. Blacklist Support Group are proud supporters of using leverage as part of a strategy combined with rank & file action to put pressure on rogue employers to negotiate. Leverage works - it helped us win the reinstatement of Frank Morris on Crossrail. As part of the so called inquiry into industrial disputes, it was announced that the practice of blacklisting will be looked at. Steve Kelly - co-chair Blacklist Support Group & UNITE branch secretary said: 'The Tory proposals are nothing more than an anti-union witch hunt masquerading as an inquiry. To equate the blacklist scandal with Unites leverage campaign exposes the government's entire attitude towards organised labour. Blacklisting is a human right conspiracy involving multinational firms and the state. Leverage is perfectly legal protest with a giant inflatable rat. Blacklisted workers refuse to participate with this reactionary election stunt and no principled trade unionist should collaborate in our name.' 7. George Tapp - working class hero: George Tapp - a leading blacklist campaigners was run down by a motorist, dragged 100 yards down a road and suffered two fractured knees at a protest in Manchester earlier this year. George spent many weeks in hospital undergoing reconstructive surgery but is now walking again and is now back protesting against the blacklist again. An inspiration to us all. Despite Greater Manchester Police initially blaming George himself for the incident, the driver of the vehicle is now facing criminal charges and will appear in court in the next few months. Watch this space. 8. Message below from construction rank & file national committee: National construction Rank and File meeting 12 noon - 3pm Saturday 23rd November Mechanics Institute, 103 Princes Street, Manchester M1 6DD Hopefully there will be a representative from GMB , Ucatt and Unite at the meeting please inform people about this meeting. All construction workers welcome. 9. Sorry if I have missed anything out - there is a lot going on at the moment Blacklist Support Group video: blog: facebook:

N20 Report from Colin Trousdale

IN co-ordinated action BLACKLISTED workers from U.C.A.T.T. and Unite targeted a Robert McAlpine site in Hulme south M/C (where over 200 site operatives were leafleted )and a Laing O'Rourke / Bailey Building Services (N.G.Baileys )site at M/C town hall extension where amongst the 100 or so operatives leafleted were the project manager for Laings & supervision for Baileys , before meeting up at the town hall proper to leaflet staff & the public over 1,000 leaflets were handed out including to the chair of the council , the chief executive of the council and the deputy police commissioner . After a couple of hours protest by 30 BLACKLISTED construction workers and approx. 20 of their supporters from other unions a delegation was invited in to speak to two councillors who gave us assurances and evidence that a motion had been passed by the full council denouncing BLACKLISTING . And that we now had an open door to express our concerns over the use of known BLACKLISTERS on public projects in Manchester , we were asked to give them a couple of days to find out who we should be speaking to at the council to force L.O.R. to allow union officials on site to address & recruit the workforce . RESULT FOR THE RnF /B.S.G. over to the fulltimers (I will forward you the contact details of the two councillors for ACTION ). Oh and we got on the telly .KEEP THE FAITH

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Tragedy at Leeds protest?

THERE was an unconfirmed report today that one of the pickets on the protests against blacklisting at the Laing O'Rourke site in Leeds suffered a heart attack after being set upon by security guards. Reports are vague and at present the position is unclear because small protests taking place across the country as well as the big ones in London and Manchester.

Manchester City Council's policy on blacklisting

AFTER an encounter on the doorstep of the staff entrance to Manchester Town Hall with the leader of Manchester City Council during the protest today against blacklisting, six electricians had a meeting with the Executive Committee of Manchester City Council at Noon. It was agreed that in future there will be more exchanges, but the nature of this will depend on proper protocol and on what decisions are made at the Greater Manchester Contracting Unite Branch when it meets next month. This protest was called purely on the initiative of the Greater Manchester Contracting Branch, mainly at the instigation of the blacklisted electrician Colin Trousdale and with the support of Tameside TUC. It later came to light that the Manchester City Council carried a motion on the 9th, October 2013 and it was decided as follows that: 'Manchester City Council is deeply concerned by revelations that major companies have been involved in "blacklisting" in order to deny employment to workers who have engaged in trade union activity, such as reporting breaches of health and safety regulations. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) found that a blacklist of copnstruction workers was maintained by an organisation called The Consulting Association who traded for profit the personal information of over 3,200 workers. This blacklist was used by over 40 companies and included information about workers' personal relationships, trade union activity and employment history. The use of such blacklists is unacceptable and cannot be condoned, as it has a potential negative impact on the employment rights of Manchester construction workers. This Council has constructive relationships with trade unions and upholds the right to freedom of association, and we expect all suppliers and partner organisations to do the same. Council calls on the Chief Execfutive to examine existing contracts with any of the companies listed by the ICO and ask for reassurances that the company uses no form of blacklisting to inform their employment decisions.'

Manchester Town Hall Blacklist Protest

SOME 50 people joined a protest outside Manchester Town Hall today as part of a TUC National Day of Action against the blacklist in the British building trade. The Manchester campaign action had been called by the Greater Manchester Contracting Branch of Unite the Union and supported by Tameside Trade Union Council, as part of the TUC's national Day of Action. Other protests are scheduled to take place today in London, Cardiff, Glasgow and Liverpool. In Manchester, over 1,000 leaflets have already been distributed at the Town Hall in the centre of Manchester. Manchester City Council is still awarding contracts to companies that were involved in blacklisting and who were affiliated to the Consulting Association, a body closed down after in 2009 the Information Commissioner discovered that it was operating an illegal data base or blacklist. Howard Bernstein the Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, took a leaflet attacking the blacklist off me this morning, as he received it someone shouted 'Howard Bernstein you could stop all this!' Granada Reports has just done an interview with Graham Bowker one of the blacklisted electricians who helped to found the campaign against the blacklist during the Daf dispute in Manchester in 2003. As I write this several protesters including Graham Bowker and George Tapp have asked for an interview with either the leader of Manchester Council or some other senior councillor in the Labour dominated administration. A man representing the 'facilities staff' at the Town Hall has told them that all the senior councillors are in a meeting and that the protocol is to fix a meeting through the Democratic Services Department at the Town Hall. The blacklist protesters said that this is a serious issue of human rights and that as the protest was scheduled to last all the rest of today they would be available all day to see anyone who was suitable.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Elderly dying mum forced to move because of Tory 'Bedroom Tax'!

An 82-year-old sick pensioner, who has less than a year to live, is facing eviction from her three-bedroom home because she cannot afford to pay her Tory Bedroom Tax.

Mary Bennett, a widow from Runcorn, Cheshire, has been told that she must leave the home that she has lived in for the past 20 years because she cannot afford to pay the £14 a week tax. The widow, who’s dying wish was to die at home, suffers from a cardiac condition and dementia. Over the past 20 years, she has spent £10,000 on disability adaptations to her home.

Although pensioners are normally exempt from the Bedroom Tax, Mrs Bennett cannot claim the OAP exemption because her son Alan Clark, 47, is her live-in carer. Mr. Clark gave up his job as a hotel manager, to look after his mother. A discretionary grant from Halton Council has paid the short-fall in Mrs Bennett’s housing benefit since she fell into arrears, but she will be forced to move from her home, when this expires in March.

Alan told the Daily Mirror that though he plans to move his mother to a smaller rented house where his sister lives, he fears that the ‘upheaval could unsettle his ill mother’ and added: “How dare they take away a dying woman’s wish for the sake of £14 a week. It is a travesty.”

A council spokesman told the newspaper: “Discretionary housing payment cannot exceed March 31 in any given year as the council receives annual fund allocation from Government. Until this grant is known any awards cannot be made into the next financial year.”

Since the introduction of the Bedroom Tax in April, thousands of families have been pushed into homelessness and a spiralling cycle of debt as they struggle to pay the tax. According to a recent study, more than half of households hit by the Bedroom Tax have been unable to pay their full rent.

While the Tory government imposes punitive taxation like the Bedroom Tax on hard-up families, it is making the British taxpayer foot a £1 million legal bill so that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, can go into battle with Brussels to defend banker’s mega-bonuses. The chancellor has filed a complaint against the European Union (EU) over its plans to cap bonuses, even though this measure has the support of the EU’s twenty-six other European Finance Ministers. 

Monday, 18 November 2013

Threat to British Press Freedom?

IN Saturday's International Herald Tribune (IHT) an editorial entitled 'British Press Freedom Threatened' began:
'Britain has a long tradition of free, inquisitive press.  That freedom, so essential to democratic accountability, is being challenged by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government of Prime Minister David Cameron.'

Because, unlike the USA, Britain has no constitutional guarantee of press freedom, the IHT editor claimed that 'Parliamentary committees and the police are now exploiting that lack of protection to harass, intimidate and possibly prosecute The Guardian newspaper for its publication of information based on National Security Agency documents that were leaked by Edward Snowden.'

In the USA the New York Times has published similar material from the same source, they did this believing the public has an interest in knowing about and debating the N.S.A.'s 'out-of-control spying on private communications'.  The IHT and Northern Voices believes that interest is shared by the British public as well.

The IHT editorial attacks the feebleness of the British parliamentarians writing:
'British legislators have ducked their duty to ask tough questions of British intelligence agencies, which closely collaborate with the N.S.A., and have gone after The Guardian instead.'

The Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger, has been summoned to appear before a parliamentary committee in December to testify about The Guardian's internal editorial decision-making regarding the material provided by Edward Snowden.  M.P.'s have also demanded to know about the paper's decision to make some of the leaked data available to other journalists.  At the same time Knacker-of-the-Yard is busy on a criminal investigation into The Guardian's actions surrounding the Snowden leaks.

As we watch freedom of the press appears to be going down the plughole in this country, and it is taking the American IHT to sound the alarm.   The International Herald Tribune editorial continues:
'These alarming developments threaten the ability of British journalists to do their jobs effectively.  Britain's press has long lacked the freedoms enjoyed by American newspapers.  Now it appears they are less free from government interference than journalists in Germany, where Der Spiegel has published material from the Snowden leaks without incurring government bullying.'

We now know that for years there was a blacklist operated in the British building trade, paid for by major building companies, that prevented known trade union activists from gaining employment and went about spying on their families:  this week on Wednesday is the TUC Day of Action against blacklisting.  This practice was uncovered when the Information Commissioner raided an office in the Midlands in 2009 and discovered illegal data on the premises including a list of over 3,000 names, national insurance numbers and addresses.  Though the business was closed down and one individual, Ian Kerr, pleaded guilty to keeping an illegal data base, very little has been done by the government to hinder the practice of blacklisting in the building trade or anywhere else.   It is also known over the years that people involved in the shady business of blacklisting have had links to the security services and the police.  Perhaps it is not surprising then that the government is going for The Guardian over Snowden, while letting the likes of construction giants like Carillion, McAlpine, Balfour Kilpatrick off the hook over blacklisting.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Modern Indian at Marks & Spencer!

IF you want to eat a 'Modern Indian' meal in the First Floor Cafe of Marks & Spencers on the corner of Market Street and Cross Street in Manchester today, don't bother! The Modern Indian based on a Goan cuisine sold out hours ago after noon. But you may be mislead into joining the queue because the floor manager, Steve, insists on keeping the board advertising this dish on display come what may. No matter that folk have to wait in the queue for half an hour to be disappointed; that doesn't bother Stevie, who told one woman that M&S can't employ people to inform the customers that they are wasting their time needlessly. Indeed not, he even offered a woman a baked potatoe instead. The idea at M&S, according to Steve, is that by the time they come to be served they are so hungry that they'll eat owt!

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake: Is this the death of feminism in the theatre?

IT was a smashing performance of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake that we saw yesterday at the Lowry at Salford Quays. But I left wondering if Matthew Boune's interpretation if carried out throughout the industry may lead to the decimation of jobs for the lassies in the theatre world. All the swans in this version of Swan Lake are lads not lassies, and as a consequence at the curtain call I counted over twenty men, leaving a the women in the cast in single figures. This idea of turning tradition upside down which is reported as taking the dance world by storm may have the effect of reducing the employment prospects of women. Since its London premiere, Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake has been acclaimed as a landmark achievement on the international stage, collecting over 30 international theatre awards, including three Tonys. So here in Salford we have an end to swans in tutus, and instead a blending of humour and spectacle to give us a post-modern Swan Lake for our time. This Swan Lake at the Lowry will be on until Sat 16 November.

AGM of Construction Safety Campaign

CONSTRUCTION Safety Campaign AGM 11am Saturday 16th November 40 Bull Street Birmingham B4 6AF All welcome The recent death of Richard Laco on a Laing O'Rourke building site in Kings Cross has again raised the issue to construction safety to centre stage. A silent vigil has held for Richard Laco organised by the Construction Safety Campaign and was attended by family members and the girlfriend of the deceased building worker. Pix of the silent vigil in the links below: Recent figures show that construction deaths have soared in London and even Laing O'Rourke's own internal reports state that there has been a "huge rise" in hazards and and near misses on their sites last year. Laing O'Rourke have adopted a harsh anti union stance on their projects and officials from construction unions have been banned from their sites in London and Liverpool. Where unions have elected safety reps on sites in London, the company has denied them facilities expected in legislation. Laing O'Rourke and their wholly owned electrical contractor Crown House are also proven Blacklisters of union members who raise concerns about safety on building sites. They are defendants in the blacklisting High Court claim being brought by Guney Clark & Ryan whose first hearing is November 29th. Because of their anti-union attitude and systematic blacklisting of safety reps, Laing O'Rourke will be a target of the Blacklist Support Group on the TUC Day of Action on Blacklisting on November 20th.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Laing O'Rourke & Workplace Death

THE Construction Safety Campaign are organsing a wreath laying and minutes silence for Richard Laco, the worker killed last week on the Laing O'Rourke building site at Kings Cross.
2pm Thursday 14th November
Laing O’Rourke site entrance
Francis Crick Institute project
Kings Cross (behind the British Library). 

Pete Farrell (painter) Chair of Construction Safety Campaign said:
'Our thoughts go out to the family and friends of Richard Laco. And we intend to hold a respectful event as an opportunity for friends and workers on the site to show a moments respect for this tragic death. Too many workers die on building sites. Too often this is because construction firms give safety a lower priority than profit. We need to make sure no other families have to suffer the heartache of losing a loved one.'

Unite Assistant General Secretary, Gail Cartmail said:
'This fatality is a tragedy and our condolences go out to the bereaved family and friends. This is a harsh reminder of the importance of high standards of health & safety in an industry that is extremely dangerous. Trade unions have a role to play in maintaining safe working environments but Laing O'Rourke has bizarrely banned Unite officials from their sites. There is no place for anti-trade union behaviour in an industry where we should be working together in the interests of safety. We urge Laing O'Rourke and its subsidiary Crown House to give Unite access to the sites to support workers and help make improvements where necessary.'
People before Profit
Mourn the Dead – Fight for the Living  

Gradely Things on Lancashire Day at Number Ten Gallery


ON the 27th, & 28th, November 2013, there will be a celebration of 'Gradely Things' to commemorate LANCASHIRE DAY at Number Ten Gallery, 10, Baille Street, Rochdale.
(tel. 01706 354076).

Tickets £10 (Book in advance):
Food, Music, Poetry, Ghost Stories &
an exhibition of Lancashire Art - photos &
paintings by local artists.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

TUC Day of Action on Blacklisting November 20th

BLACKLIST Support Group (BSG) are calling on all supporters, Trades Councils and trade union branches to organise an event in your area for the TUC Day of Action.

A protest outside a building site being built by a blacklisting company or a public body still using blacklisting firms to provide public services. This is an official TUC sponsored Day of Action, so all unions in an area should work together to coordinate action. Official TUC flyer attached (print out and distribute - with local details printed on the back if needed)
Whether it is a protest, a media event or direct action please take pix and post on social media and contact the local press to ensure the story runs everywhere.
Use the hashtags #blacklisting #N20 #BSG 
Some ideas to maximise the chances of getting media coverage: Blacklisted T-shirts, banners, placards, PA (play some music not just speakers on a megaphone), hand in a giant oversized protest letter, inflatable rat, it's just been firework night so make a guy in a suit with a Cullum McAlpine face mask, blacklisted workers have been locked out of work so a big padlock & chain might come in handy. Whatever you do - make it visual.
Planned events:
7:00am - Protest at Laing O'Rourke, Cheesegrater, Leadenhall St, City of London (opposite Lloyds Building)
10:00am - Protest at Laing O'Rourke, Francis Crick Medical Research Centre, Kings Cross (behind the British Library)
1:00pm - TUC protest with MPs & 4 union General Secretaries, College Green, Parliament Sq, Westminster
2:00pm - TUC Lobby of MPs, House of Commons
3:30pm - House of Commons Committee Room 11 - John McDonnell MP chairs BSG meeting speakers: Sean Curran (GCR solicitors for High court claim) & blacklisted workers.
12:00pm - STUC protest outside Holyrood
1:00pm - film show inside Holyrood organised by Neil Findlay MSP
transport from Glasgow via: 
12:00 WTUC event - Senedd media briefing room. Speakers include Andy Richards Unite, Nick Blundell UCATT, Martin Hird GMB and Jane Hutt the finance minister.
Anyone wishing to attend contact: 
7:15am - Manchester Town Hall protest against NG Bailey - organised by BSG - speakers include blacklisted workers: Graham Bowker, Colin Trousdale, George Tapp
There are also a number of direct action events taking place across the country.
Send us the details of your event and we will update this list to maximise a turnout at every protest.

The current printed issue of NORTHERN VOICES No.14, is now available for sale at all our usual outlets in the North of England and beyond - see below. This issue N.V.14 has a Tameside Eye story about how Tameside has a history of involvement in blacklisting, it also contains an interview by Barry Woodling with George Tapp - the Salford electrician injured in May on an anti-blacklist picket. The Voices has been in the forthfront of the campaign against the blacklist since 2003 and the DAF dispute at Manchester Piccadilly, its editor, an electrician, was on the blacklist of the Economic League in the 1960s, and there was an attempt to blacklist him while he was working in Gibraltar in both 1964 and 1967, but at the time this intervention by the Foreign Office was resisted by the Gibraltarian authorities, and the Gibraltar Transport & General Workers Union.
Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included). Cheques made payable to 'Northern Voices' should be sent c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.

Victoria Woods at Royal Exchange


By Victoria Wood
Directed by Sarah Frankcom
Designed by James Cotterill  
The Royal Exchange Theatre
St Ann’s Square
Thursday 5 December 2013 to Saturday 18 January 2014
Press Night: TUESDAY 10 DECEMBER at 7.30pm   

THAT DAY WE SANG – a play with music by Victoria Wood – comes to the stage of Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre from Thursday 5 December 2013 to Saturday 18 January 2014.   

The show has been reinvented and re-orchestrated for the Royal Exchange’s unique space by BAFTA award-winning writer Victoria Wood -  one of Britain's best loved stand-up comedians, and creator of VICTORIA WOOD AS SEEN ON TV, DINNERLADIES and ACORN ANTIQUES: THE MUSICAL!  

THAT DAY WE SANG is a big-hearted and nostalgic Manchester love story for all the family. Set in the summer of ‘69, insurance clerk Tubby and secretary Enid are back on stage at the Free Trade Hall. Granada Television are recording a documentary celebrating the forty years since they first stood there as children, singing their hearts out with fellow school pupils and accompanied by the Halle Orchestra.   

This is the humorous, warm and uplifting story of two people who are trying to reconnect with who they were then and who they could be now. The show was commissioned for the Manchester International Festival 2011 and was one of the must-see events that year.   

The production will feature a 25-strong children’s choir, featuring youngsters from schools across Greater Manchester.   

Talking about the show, Victoria Wood said: 'It is a play with songs, and dancing and insurance men. It’s a love story – played against a background of The Wimpy, The Golden Egg, Piccadilly Gardens … it’s a very Mancunian story.'

The cast includes Dean Andrews, as Tubby, best known for his role as DS Ray Carling  in the BBC TV drama LIFE ON MARS and the spin-off series ASHES TO ASHES; and Anna Francolini, as Enid, who was last seen at the Royal Exchange in A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE. Her other stage credits include INTO THE WOODS (Royal Opera House), THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE (Royal & Derngate, Northampton) and ONASSIS (Novello Theatre) and her film and TV  work includes TOPSY-TURVY and ROME.   

The cast also includes Sally Banks, Andy Brady, Faye Brookes, Joel Danziger, Craige Els, William Haresceugh, Darren Lawrence, Laura Medforth,  Aki Omoshaybi,  Kelly Price, Alex Starke and  James Quinn.   

The production is directed by Royal Exchange Artistic Director Sarah Frankcom. Her recent RET successes include PUNK ROCK, WINTERLONG, THE LADY FROM THE SEA, A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, MISS JULIE, BLACK ROSES: THE KILLING OF SOPHIE LANCASTER and OPRHEUS DESCENDING and THREE BIRDS. She also directed MASQUE OF ANARCHY, with Maxine Peake, for this year’s Manchester International Festival.   

The creative team is completed by James Cotterill (designer), Nigel Lilley (musical supervisor), Ian Townsend (musical director), Sammy Murray Brown (choreographer), Jeff Borradaile (choir master), Johanna Town (lighting designer), Peter Rice (sound designer), Sorcha Williams (associate sound designer) and Liz Stevenson (assistant director).

For further information please contact JOHN GOODFELLOW (Press & Communications Manager, Royal Exchange Theatre) on 0161 615 6783 /

Production photos for THAT DAY WE SANG will be available for download from the Royal Exchange Theatre Online Press Office from Monday 9 December 2013 at

Link to online information

THAT DAY WE SANG - Listings Information


The Royal Exchange Theatre presents


By Victoria Wood

Directed by Sarah Frankcom

Designed by James Cotterill

The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

Thursday 5 December 2013 – Saturday 18 January 2014

Evening Performance Times: Monday – Saturday 7.30pm (no performance Christmas Day)

Matinee Performance Times: Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2.30pm

Press Night: Tuesday 10 December, 7.30pm

Half Price Previews: Thursday 5 & Friday 6 December

Ticket Prices: From £10 (Concessions Available)

Cheap Seats: Tickets £6.00 for Students and 25-year-olds and under, Fridays only

Audio-described Performance: Saturday 4 January, 2.30pm

BSL Interpreted Performance: Tuesday 14 January, 7.30pm

Captioned Performance: Friday 10 January, 7.30pm

Backstage tour: Wednesday 11 December, 11am

After-show Discussion with Director Sarah Frankcom: Thursday 9 January after 7.30pm performance

Box Office: 0161 833 9833.