An electrician blacklisted from the construction industry won the right to take his case to a full tribunal. Steve Kelly, one of over 3,000 workers whose data was found on an illegal blacklist run by disgraced firm The Consulting Association, believes he was targeted because of his trade union health and safety activity.
At a preliminary tribunal last week in east London Mr Kelly won the right to bring a case to full tribunal against electrical sub-contractors ECS. He was employed by the firm in 2007 but was sacked within days, allegedly for poor work.
However after obtaining his file from the Information Commissioner’s Office he discovered documentation which he believes shows that either the firm, which was a sub-contractor for Sir Robert McAlpine, or McAlpine’s itself dismissed him due to his trade union activities. Both firms have denied the allegation, although McAlpine’s is known to have subscribed to The Consulting Association’s blacklist and was one of the most enthusiastic users of the service.
Mr Kelly also believes that his being blacklisted cost him a number of other jobs in the industry. He told the Morning Star: “My only aim was to earn a living and improve health and safety conditions for myself and my workmates but I’ve been treated like a criminal. I’ve been robbed of the trade I decided to go into as a 16-year-old.”
He added he “was more fortunate than some, I’ve heard of people who lost their homes, their families, marriages split up. I know of five former workmates who have committed suicide since, primarily because they couldn’t get work.”
Campaigners from the Blacklist Support Group provided some extra entertainment at the swish National Building Awards 2010 dinner at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.
The campaign presented its own alternative Blacklister of the Year Awards as the construction industry revellers assembled for the 22 April black tie event.
Balfour Beatty won the category for “Most Enforcement Notices Issued by the Information Commissioner,” with a soaraway 14 notices.
Skanska headed the “Largest Blacklisting Invoice” category, with £28,123 in one year, pipping Sir Robert McAlpine’s £26,842 in payments to covert blacklisting group The Consulting Association.
The former head of the association, Ian Kerr, bagged the “Lifetime Achievement Award.”
A special category, the “Hear No Evil See No Evil Speak No Evil Award”, went to Skanska for its three month internal blacklisting investigation that found no-one in management did anything to merit even a verbal warning.
Safety watchdog the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) received an honourable mention in this category.
Law professor Keith Ewing of Kings College London welcomed the awards.
He said: “Blacklister of the Year is an important initiative to remind those attending the National Building Awards of the scandal that hangs over their industry.
“While the fat cats purr with delight at their lavish black tie banquet in the Grosvenor House Hotel, they need to be confronted – in what is an era of austerity for everyone else – about their role in ruining the lives of thousands of British construction workers.”