United Kingdom: Blacklisted construction workers win compensation
Unions win millions of pounds in compensation for members blacklisted by construction companies over a 30-year period.
At the beginning of May, the unions GMB, UCATT and Unite announced that they had won millions of pounds in compensation for members who had been blacklisted by construction companies and other organisations over a 30-year period. The claims had been brought against forty-four construction companies, including Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Robert McApline, Skanska UK and VINCI. These companies were using a blacklist compiled by The Consulting Association (TCA) to vet new recruits, preventing trade unionists and workers who had previously raised concerns about health and safety from finding further employment in the industry.
Pay-outs are expected to range from £25,000 to £200,000; the total value of settlements for GMB, UCATT, Unite members and blacklisted workers is around £75 million for 771 claimants. The companies will also pay millions of pounds in legal costs, estimated to be in the region of £25 million. Campaigners will now push for a public inquiry into blacklisting. Further momentum for this may be provided by the Undercover Policing Inquiry currently underway, as evidence as to police involvement in blacklisting is mounting.
The unions are campaigning for a change in the law, arguing that the legislation intended to prevent blacklisting is too weak. Offences under the regulations are civil rather than criminal and rely on workers taking a case to an employment tribunal, where the remedy is financial compensation.