Unite has settled its current long running blacklisting case against the construction companies who systematically ruined the lives of their workers.
As part of the overall settlement, which is subject to court approval, 53 blacklisted workers will receive over £1.9m in compensation. The defendants have also agreed to pay Unite’s legal fees.
In a legal breakthrough the construction companies have agreed to place the substantial sum of £230,000 into a training fund which will be administered by Unite, for all victims of blacklisting who have brought proceedings. The fund is not restricted to retraining in the construction sector.
As part of the settlement, the judge’s permission will be sought for unilateral statements to be made in open court this Friday (May 17) and, if permission is granted, individual workers will explain how blacklisting ruined their lives.
The construction companies convened have also agreed to issue their own announcement, saying that they aim to work at national, regional and site level to ensure that the modern UK construction sector provides the highest standards of employment and HR practice. Unite will hold them to account in this regard.
The latest court case follows the 2016 court action which resulted in Unite securing £19.34m for 412 blacklisted workers.
Unite had utilised every legal avenue available to force Cullum McAlpine who is considered by Unite to be one of the main architects behind the Consulting Association blacklist of construction workers to give evidence in court under oath and be cross examined but this has proved to be impossible.
Cullum McAlpine’s refusal to appear in court and answer for his actions only serves to re-emphasise the need for a full public inquiry into blacklisting. As well as forcing Mr McAlpine and other key figures behind the blacklist to give evidence it also must investigate the involvement of the police, the security forces and the government in the blacklisting of construction workers.
“This is a historic agreement which provides some degree of justice to a further group of construction workers who had their working lives needlessly ruined by blacklisting construction companies,” said Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett.
“The creation of a training fund controlled by Unite is a huge breakthrough, and is to be welcomed, as it will allow the union to assist victims of blacklisting return to employment,” he added.
“The refusal of Cullum McAlpine to give evidence is bitterly disappointing.
“Unite remains utterly committed to ensuring that those guilty of ruining workers’ lives should be forced to account for their actions,” he went on to say. “This is why it is absolutely essential that a full public inquiry into blacklisting is imperative.
“The Labour party is committed to holding a public inquiry into blacklisting and it is to their deep shame that the Conservative government, many of whose friends were key players in the blacklisting scandal, has refused to act.
“The blacklisting construction companies promised public statement is welcome about their future good behaviour and a new relationship with unions, but these words must be followed up by genuine actions.
“If they are serious, they must provide genuine unrestricted access to their sites and workforces, end the practice of moving union activists from one job to another to disrupt union organisation, end the reliance on agency labour and end the scandal of bogus self-employment.”