Members of Unite working in the construction industry will be lobbying Parliament tomorrow (November 6) as part of a nationwide day of action, in the ongoing campaign for justice for blacklisted workers.
Members will lobby their MPs and attend a meeting in Parliament where they will be addressed by leading Labour MPs including John McDonnell, Jonathan Ashworth, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Louise Haigh.
Unite is also holding protests on the same day (December 6) at the sites of companies involved in construction blacklisting throughout the UK including in Birmingham, Brighton, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Manchester and Nottingham.
In Edinburgh, protestors will stage a demo outside a site run by Laing O’Rourke, a company involved in historic blacklisting. The demo will be followed by another protest outside the Scottish Parliament.
Unite regional co-ordinating officer Steve Dillon said that while the Scottish government had produced a policy note regarding public procurement from blacklisting companies, it had not “backed that up with decisive action.”
“It seems to be the case that companies who have long been identified as established blacklisters are able to bid successfully for Scottish Government contracts time after time,” he said. “Companies that have been caught blacklisting should be barred from bidding for public sector contracts.”
Among Unite’s demands, the union is calling for a full public inquiry into blacklisting; for blacklisting to become a criminal offence; and for companies caught blacklisting to be barred from bidding for public sector contracts.
Unite is campaigning for justice for workers who were historically blacklisted via the Consulting Association and for workers who have been victims of contemporary blacklisting. The union has uncovered several recent cases of contemporary blacklisting, including at major publicly funded projects such as Crossrail.
“The disgusting practice of blacklisting has not disappeared,” said Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail. “Blacklisting will not be stamped out until the government brings in effective laws.
“Unite are uncovering fresh cases of contemporary blacklisting which demonstrates why urgent action is needed to end blacklisting once and for all,” she added.
“It is simply outrageous that companies who have been caught blacklisting and have ruined the lives of construction workers, have escaped virtually scot free and continue to be rewarded with public sector contracts.
“Unite will leave no stone unturned in our fight for justice for blacklisted workers and will use every avenue open to us; be it industrial, political or legal to win justice for our members.”
This week Unite announced that it had launched new high court proceedings to bring the ‘controlling minds’ behind the systematic blacklisting of workers to justice.
These include Callum McAlpine and David Cochrane, who were the first and last chairmen of the Consulting Association and who were both employed by Sir Robert McAlpine.
Unite is also taking action against Danny O’Sullivan formerly of Kier Ltd and Stephen Quant formerly of Skanska UK PLC, who also both served as chairmen of the Consulting Association.
Unite is determined that the four individuals are forced to give evidence in court and answer for their actions.
“It is simply unacceptable that those companies guilty of blacklisting continue to benefit from public procurement and simply beyond reason that those individuals who gave the instructions for the blacklist to be created remain at the top of the companies concerned and have not been subject to any discipline proceedings whatsoever,” said Unite assistant general secretary for legal services Howard Beckett.
“If our members arrive late for work they are subject to discipline,” he said. “The greedy bosses place trade unionists on blacklists, cost their companies millions of pounds in legal costs and damages and get away without sanction.
“They think they live by different rules than the rest of us; well it is not acceptable and this is why Unite continue the legal fight for justice to see individuals who are responsible answer to a court of law.”
The Consulting Association was formed from the collapse of the Economic League in 1993 and was involved in blacklisting 3,213 construction workers. It was closed down following a raid of its premises in 2009 by the Information Commissioner’s Office.