Dave Smith v Carillion
9am Tuesday 30th August 2011
Central London Employment Tribunal
On 30 – 31 August 2011 in the Central London Employment Tribunal, the UK construction industry will stand accused of systematically breaching the human rights of thousands of building workers
Dave Smith v Carillion Plc is a test case on the use of the Human Rights Act in employment law. The key evidence in the case is a 36 page secret blacklist file with information supplied by managers from the Carillion about Dave Smith, an engineer and union health and safety representative from the building industry.
When Dave Smith raised concerns about issues such as a near fatal accident at his workplace, senior managers secretly added his name to a central blacklisting database available to other employers in the industry
The blacklist file includes Dave’s name, address, national insurance number, work history, photographs, his car, union safety representative’s credentials, newspaper cuttings, and details about his family.
The blacklist was compiled by a shady organisation called the Consulting Association and covertly shared among the Directors of 44 of the UK’s largest multi-national construction firms in order to deny employment to trade unionists and workers who raised concerns about safety
The blacklisting scandal was uncovered following a raid by the Information Commissioner’s Office in 2009; 3,216 building workers were on the blacklist which was used to unlawfully remove them from major construction projects
Dave Smith commented: “I was a qualified engineer but during one of the biggest building booms the industry has ever experienced, I was on the dole. Employment agencies stopped ringing me and my kids were on milk tokens. What Carillion and the major building firms did was a deliberate conspiracy against any workers who were prepared to take a stand for basic safety issues.
“A celebrity gets their mobile phone hacked by News International: it’s front page news, with debates in parliament and criminal charges. 3,000 building workers have had their lives ruined by multi-national construction firms – where is our justice?”
Declan Owens of the Free Representation Unit (Mr Smith’s solicitor) stated: “I was shocked to learn about Mr Smith’s treatment by the major construction companies that subscribed to The Consulting Association and the conspiracy in relation to his blacklisting by them. Mr Smith has led a brave campaign on behalf of his fellow blacklisted victims and set up a support group on their behalf. He is seeking to change the law in the interests of his fellow workers, which is very admirable.
“I hope that we are able to persuade the Tribunal to give Mr Smith the justice he deserves as well as to secure the protection under the Human Rights Act of other workers from the continued exploitation that they often face within the construction industry”.
Smith v Carillion is the first case where a barrister is using Human Rights legislation to persuade the Tribunal that existing legislation should be interpreted in such a way that it upholds Mr Smith’s human rights, even if this means creating new case law
If Dave wins, it will make it much easier for other workers to bring claims calling for employment laws to be read compatibly with the European Convention.
If Dave loses, the case looks set to end up in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
- The Blacklist Support Group is urging concerned individuals to join its protest.