Blacklist Thousands of workers on a construction blacklist lost their livelihoods as a result. A Hazards photofile features the stunning Blacklist Support Group campaign that exposed collusion between employers and the police and inaction by the government.
Hazards 121, January-March 2013
Big liars After noisily protesting their innocence, it seems the biggest names in UK construction were – and some remain - safety blacklisters after all. Hazards warns that victimisation of union and safety activists is alive and killing. Hazards 120, October-December 2012
Pay-per-go Whistleblowers play a key role in exposing legal wrongdoing in the workplace, including potentially devastating and deadly safety abuses.
But a mixture of hefty tribunal fees and backdoor changes to the law are
set to make it easier for rogue bosses to fire anyone who speaks up. Hazards 119, July-September 2012
All fired up When a private investigator was fined £5,000 for running an illegal
blacklist of over 3,000 construction workers, the real villains escaped
justice. The construction industry’s major names had bankrolled and directed The Consulting Association, which in turn told them to steer
clear of union activists – particularly those like Dave Smith who had
made a stand on safety.
Hazards 107, July-September 2009
the firing line In the UK we
have kinda, sorta rights. You can refuse dangerous work, but you can
be fired for your trouble. You can speak up at work, but you risk being
kicked out. Hazards calls for an end to this "protection
racket" and says we'd all be safer if safety reps had more rights. Hazards 89,
15 February 2005
Victimisation: How to get safe, not sacked and what to do when things go wrong Everyone wants workplaces to be safer,
right? And everyone thinks getting hazards remedied and dangerous work
stopped is OK, OK? Well, not every employer thinks so, as thousands
of workers find out each year. Mick Holder looks at how you can get fired up about safety without getting fired.
Hazards 79, July-September 2002 [pdf]
Hazards blacklist blog
National Whistleblower Center, USA
A Trade Union Perspective, London
Public Concern at Work
Whistleblower Protection Blog, USA
Britain: New tactics see directors face doorstep protests
Unite is championing new ‘leverage’ techniques to get companies to take safety and other union concerns more seriously. The methods, which include demonstrations outside the homes and offices of company directors, were used to startling effect in the recent Crossrail blacklisting dispute says the union.
Unite organising webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Workers target blacklister Laing O’Rourke
Protesters targeted a Liverpool building project run by Laing O'Rourke on 9 November following a tragic death on one of the construction giant’s London projects. Members of the union-backed Blacklist Support Group (BSG) said they were outraged at the company’s refusal to allow the union access to its projects, including the site of the Francis Crick Institute in London where the death occurred.
Unite Politics – take action on blacklisting • UCATT news release • BWI news release • Sky News • Morning Star • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: TUC Blacklisting Day of Action, 20 November
The TUC is organising a national day of action on 20 November calling on blacklisting firms to “own up, pay up and clean up”. The 'Cheesegrater' building under construction in central London, another Laing O'Rourke site, is among those in the capital to be targeted. Unions want a Leveson-style inquiry into the scandal.
TUC Blacklisting Day of Action, 20 November, webpages • Events listing for the TUC Day of Action on Blacklisting • 16 November 2013
Britain: Blacklisting compensation scheme a ‘travesty’
The industry-proposed compensation scheme for victims of blacklisting is a blatant attempt to gag affected workers, the union UCATT has said. It added the scheme in its current form “would represent a complete travesty of justice,” while a Blacklist Support Group spokesperson said: “We will settle for offers of employment, full compensation and a public inquiry into this squalid conspiracy.”
UCATT news release • Blacklist blog • Construction Enquirer • Morning Star • Express and Star • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: AMEC ‘should apologise’ over blacklisting
The union GMB has condemned construction giant AMEC's failure to apologise for its involvement in an illegal blacklisting scandal. It says AMEC should join Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci, who apologised for their involvement with the blacklist and announced the creation of The Construction Workers Compensation Scheme.
GMB news release • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Cross-party support for union blacklisting campaign
A Conservative MP has backed the union campaign against blacklisting and supported calls for compensation for affected workers and a bar on public sector contracts for blacklisting firms. Stephen McPartland, the MP for Stevenage, told the House of Commons on 16 October that he and the Labour MP for Luton North, Kelvin Hopkins, will shortly contact the 44 firms that paid to access the blacklist held by The Consulting Association.
Blacklisting debate, Hansard coverage for 16 October 2013 • The Observer • Morning Star • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Union urges action on police links to blacklist
The union GMB has said it intends to go to the courts next week to lift the lid on alleged police involvement in the construction blacklist scandal. GMB want the Home Office to be forced to supply information about officers who gave workers’ details to a firm compiling the secret list.
GMB news release • The Mirror • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: ICO admits it has proof of another blacklist
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has confirmed it holds documents relating to another blacklist in the construction industry. The confirmation came in a letter from ICO deputy commissioner David Smith to Ian Davidson MP, chair of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigation into blacklisting.
Blacklist blog • UCATT news release • People Management • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Blacklisters bow to union pressure
A high profile campaign by unions and campaigners has forced Britain’s eight largest construction industry blacklisters to apologise and agree to a compensation scheme. But while the companies have apologised for their involvement with an organisation that kept a list uncovered in a raid by the Information Commissioner's Office in 2009, they have not admitted liability.
GMB blacklisting campaign • Blacklist Support Group news release • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Herald Scotland • Construction Enquirer • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Tell blacklisters to own up, pay up and clean up!
Despite over four years passing since 44 construction firms were exposed as blacklisters, thousands of victimised site workers are still waiting for justice. As part of the day of action organised by the TUC and unions, there will be a lobby of parliament on 20 November, to put pressure on MPs to hold an inquiry.
TUC news release • Blacklist blog • GMB • UCATT and Unite blacklist campaign webpages • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Unions welcome Labour blacklisting inquiry
The Labour Party aims to launch a “full inquiry” into the “disgraceful” practice of blacklisting in the building industry, if the present government does not, a senior party figure has said. Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna outlined the plan a Labour’s conference this week.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • UCATT news release • The Guardian • The Mirror •
Blacklist Support Group facebook page • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Britain: Blacklister ousted from Labour conference
Construction unions have welcomed a decision by the Labour Party to bar blacklisting construction firm Carillion from its conference. A stand originally allocated to the construction giant was taken over by UCATT, after the Labour executive withdrew the Carillion invitation and was used by UCATT to promote the anti-blacklisting campaign and the campaign for Justice for the Shrewsbury Pickets.
UCATT news release • GMB news release and blacklisters’ list • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Britain: Workers told to pay for justice
The TUC has slammed new plans to make workers with household savings of £3,000 pay the full cost of going to an employment tribunal. The fees introduced on 29 July mean workers can be required to pay up to £1,200 for taking a tribunal complaint about issues including victimisation for safety activities, sexual harassment or race discrimination.
TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: Blacklisters must ‘own up, clean up and pay up’
The TUC is to hold a national day of action against blacklisting on Wednesday 20 November. Protests will be held up and down the country and there will be lobby of parliament in London.
TUC news release • TUC Stronger Unions blog • Unite news release • GMB news release • UCATT news release • The Guardian • The Independent • The Mirror • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: Welsh government acts to ‘eradicate’ blacklisting
Public sector bodies in Wales can exclude blacklisters from bidding for public sector contracts under new Welsh government guidance, finance minister Jane Hutt has announced. A Procurement Advice Note has been issued to all Welsh public bodies to outline the necessary steps that can be taken through procurement “to help eradicate blacklisting – which can be very damaging to the careers and livelihoods of trade unionists,” the Welsh government said.
Welsh government news release • Unite news release • UCATT news release • GMB news release • Wales Online • The Guardian and related commentary from Ricky Tomlinson • The Mirror • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: Frank success for blacklisting campaign!
An electrician sacked in what his union believes was a clear case of blacklisting after raising health and safety concerns has been reinstated. Unite member Frank Morris was dismissed last September from the Crossrail project.
Unite and BFK joint statement • Stronger Unions blog • Blacklist blog • Construction Enquirer • Risks 621 • 7 September 2013
Britain: Union warning on offshore blacklists
An offshore culture that has left North Sea oil workers fearful of speaking up about safety concerns in case they are blacklisted by employers must change, union leaders have warned. Bob Crow, general secretary of the union RMT, said: “There is a lack of trust and it's not surprising given a history of blacklisting by employers. The use of NRB [not-required-back] labelling has left some petrified that their careers could come to an end.”
The Guardian • Blacklist blog • Risks 621 • 7 September 2013
Britain: Police ‘cover-up’ their blacklisting role
Unions and campaigners have called for a ‘Leveson-style’ inquiry after new evidence emerged that police are involved in a ‘cover-up’ of their participation in a blacklisting scandal. The demand came after the Guardian reported it had seen evidence that the police gathered intelligence on trade union activists and passed the information to The Consulting Association, a clandestine blacklisting agency that unlawfully stored secret files on thousands of workers.
Blacklist blog • The Guardian and related commentary • GMB news release • The Mirror • Morning Star • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
[victimns] Global: No escape for blacklisters as union goes stateside
A company linked to the Crossrail blacklisting controversy has found itself receiving unwanted attention in the US, where it has been pursued by the union Unite. A delegation from the UK union travelled to Chicago last week to inform decision makers involved in the Chicago Midway Airport privatisation about Ferrovial’s involvement in ‘blacklisting’ on the London Crossrail project.
Unite news release • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Britain: McAlpine names rivals in blacklist defence
Sir Robert McAlpine has added at least nine other contractors as co-defendants against a multi-million pound legal action by blacklisted building workers. The nine major contractors added to the list of defendants are Balfour Beatty, BAM, Carillion, Costain, Laing O’Rourke, Kier, Skanska, Vinci and AMEC; when subsidiaries are included, the list runs to 34 firms.
Blacklist blog • Construction Enquirer • Guney, Clark and Ryan blacklisting webpages • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Britain: Unions protest over new tribunal fees
Union protests marked the introduction on 29 July of new fees of up to £1,200 for workers taking employment tribunal cases against their employers. The charges apply to tribunal complaints about issues including victimisation for safety activities, sexual harassment or race discrimination. has given a green light to bad employers to continue exploiting their staff.”
TUC news release • TUC Touchstone blog • Unite news release • GMB news release • BECTU news release • The Guardian • The Mirror • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: UNISON to challenge tribunal fees
A ruling by the Royal Courts of Justice has given UNISON permission for a Judicial Review hearing in October to challenge the government’s new tribunal fees.
UNISON news release • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: The government is making blacklisting easier
The TUC has warned that while the government has condemned an apparent blacklist of Crossrail construction workers, it is making it easier to sack people. TUC leader Frances O’Grady said it was “not enough” for business secretary Vince Cable to refer the issue to the Information Commissioner, particularly as through undermining the tribunal system “he is part of a government that is making it harder for employees to speak out against injustice.”
The Guardian article and Frances O’Grady comment • Morning Star • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: Proper probe needed into Crossrail blacklisting
The TUC has backed calls from the Scottish Affairs Select Committee for a formal investigation into claims of 'blacklisting' on the Crossrail project. Business secretary Vince Cable referred the blacklisting issue to the Information Commissioner after a letter from the committee’s chair, Ian Davidson, advised him formal evidence heard by the committee provided “what we believe to be clear proof that blacklisting for trade union and health and safety activities has been going on within the contract for the Crossrail project run by BFK (BAM, Ferrovial and Kier).”
TUC news release • Unite news release • GMB news release • UCATT news release. BBC News Online • Morning Star • Scottish Affairs Select Committee enquiry • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Britain: Unite tells MPs about the Crossrail ‘blacklist’
The blacklisting of workers on Europe's largest construction project is on-going, “organised and systematic,” MPs have been told. Appearing before the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into blacklisting, Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said the evidence it was happening on London's Crossrail scheme was circumstantial but people could “join up the dots.”
Scottish Affairs Committee statement • The Herald • Risks 612 • 6 July 201
Britain: Home Office ignored job switch advice
A Home Office worker put in a job for which he was poorly suited and who occupational health advisers said should be transferred to another post has won an unfair dismissal claim. Prospect member Vaithilingam Mohanarajan, who worked as a senior scientific officer in the government department, was dismissed for poor performance, despite an occupational health report stating he had been moved to the wrong job a couple of years earlier and was “a fish out of water.”
Prospect news release • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Britain: Unite goes to Spain to expose ‘blacklister’
Unite members travelled to Barcelona and Madrid this week to protest at construction firm Ferrovial's involvement in blacklisting and victimisation of trade unionists working on Crossrail. The company is part of the BFK (BAM, Ferrovial and Kier) consortium running the biggest construction project in Europe.
Unite news release • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Britain: Unite presses for ethical action on blacklisting
The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is being urged to step up and investigate the abuse of its 'Base Code' by construction firms linked to blacklisting. Unite has warned ETI that failure to properly investigate Unite's six specific complaints about breaches of the 'Base Code' by the construction consortium Crossrail “will make the ETI yet again appear to be protecting and providing cover for Crossrail's interests rather than helping to protect workers.”
Unite news release • ETI base code and website • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Britain: Blacklisting is 20 years old and counting
The union Unite has evidence that vetting of building industry workers is ongoing, four years after the discovery of a secret list that denied people work for years. The union revelation came in a BBC Panorama programme that included the first TV interview with the woman who helped run the now-defunct blacklisting operation.
BBC News Online and BBC One - Panorama: Blacklist Britain • Morning Star • The Independent • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Britain: Unions to keep up the pressure on blacklisters
Unions have vowed to keep up their battle for justice from the major construction firms linked to a blacklisting scandal. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey has launched a national mobilisation against Crossrail consortium Bam Ferrovial Kier (BFK), which has included more than 350 UK protests in the past three weeks, with a thousand more planned over the next six months, and GMB has said the 70 blacklisting damages claims lodged in the High Court will be the first of several “monthly waves”.
The Guardian and related commentary from Ricky Tomlinson • Construction Manager • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Britain: GMB takes 70 blacklisting claims to court
A High Court case on behalf of 70 union members blacklisted by Carillion and other construction employers has commenced. Michael Newman, from Leigh Day, the law firm brought in by GMB to act in the case, said: “We are absolutely confident that the High Court will find that substantial compensation are due from the construction industry for what was effectively a black market in destroying workers’ reputations and job prospects.”
GMB news release • Leigh Day news release • Morning Star • BBC News Online and related Dirk McPherson case history • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
Britain: Crossrail contractor faces blacklisting action
Union members have protested outside the London Central Employment Tribunal in support of a Unite rep who lost his job after raising safety concerns. In September 2012, Frank Morris was sacked from the Crossrail project along with 28 electrical workers from the subcontractor EIS.
Unite news release • Morning Star • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Britain: Union appeal for injured blacklisted activist
A union appeal fund has been set up for anti-blacklisting campaigner George Tapp, who was mown down and seriously injured at a demonstration by a hit and run driver. The Unite member was involved in a protest at a site operated by construction firm Bam in Manchester.
Morning Star • Socialist Worker • Greater Manchester Police statement
Donations should be sent to Salford TUC George Tapp Appeal, 84 Liverpool Road, Eccles, Salford M30 0WZ • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Britain: Scots government blocks progress on blacklisting
Blacklisted workers rallied at Scotland’s Holyrood parliament building as MSPs piled the pressure on government for a public inquiry. Members of the union Unite packed the public gallery for a 2 May blacklisting debate, but the debating chamber itself was nearly deserted as Labour MSP Neil Findlay led calls for a crackdown.
STUC news release • UCATT news release • Morning Star • The Courier • Risks 604 • 11 May 2013
Britain: No public contracts for blacklisters
As unions Unite and GMB and the grassroots Blacklist Support Group up the pressure on blacklisting firms with a rolling programme of demonstrations nationwide, George Tapp, a Unite member attending a protest has been seriously injured in what has been described as “a deliberate hit and run.”
Unite news release • GMB news release • Manchester Evening News • Eastern Daily Post • Watford Observer • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Britain: Renewed protests at Crossrail blacklisters
The Blacklist Support Group, backed by the union Unite, has staged noisy protests against firms involved in the massive Crossrail construction job. On 25 April, they appeared outside the Basingstoke office of construction and engineering giant Kier and on 2 May at the RAILTEX exhibition at London’s Earls Court Exhibition Centre, where Andrew Wolstenholme, the chief executive officer of Crossrail, was the keynote speaker.
Unite news release • The Gazette • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Train driver cleared of assault charges
Train driver Mick Ward, 42, who was wrongly convicted of assault last year when acting in the interests of safety, has had his conviction quashed at York Crown Court. He was joined by more than 30 of his colleagues, co-workers and fellow ASLEF members in what has been described as an ‘unprecedented’ show of support for the veteran railway worker’s fight to clear his name.
Harrogate News • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Unite follows blacklister BAM to Amsterdam
Shareholders attending the annual meeting of Dutch construction multinational Royal BAM received a lesson on blacklisting. They were met by placard wielding members of the union Unite at the 24 April event, who were protesting at the blacklisting and victimisation of trade unionists working on Crossrail by the company’s British subsidiary, BAM Nuttall.
Unite news release • Union News • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Blacklist protesters target industry awards
Blacklisting protesters from Unite and the union-backed Blacklist Support Group protested outside the National Building Awards at London’s Grosvenor Hotel. At one stage the action outside the event on 18 April blocked traffic on Park Lane.
Building magazine • Morning Star • YouTube video • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Blacklisters shamed in new report
The extent to which major construction companies were involved in illegal blacklisting activity for over a decade has been revealed in a report from MPs. The interim report by the Scottish Affairs Committee reveals damning evidence of the nature of the “morally indefensible” blacklisting and the lengths to which companies would go to keep it secret.
Scottish Affairs Committee news release and interim report, 16 April 2013. TUC Stronger Unions blog • Blacklist blog • Evening Standard • Construction Enquirer • Morning Star • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Unions welcome ongoing scrutiny of blacklisters
Unions have welcomed a commitment from MPs to continue their investigations into the blacklisting of union safety activists, and have called for justice for victims and action against those responsible. Grahame Smith, general secretary of the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) said: “It is time for all involved in any criminal activity to be held to account, it is not a defence to argue that individuals were acting on instructions of others.”
STUC news release • GMB news release • UCATT news release • BBC News Online • Unite news release • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: GMB rejects Skanska’s ‘half-hearted’ offer
A statement from Skanska that it will consider claims for compensation from workers it blacklisted has been dismissed by the union GMB as a public relations stunt. The move by the Swedish construction giant came ahead of demonstration by GMB and the Blacklist Support Group last week outside Skanska’s Stockholm annual general meeting.
GMB news release • ICO blog • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Blacklist demo at Skanska’s Stockholm AGM
UK protesters against the construction blacklist this week targeted the annual general meeting of Swedish construction multinational Skanska. The 11 April demonstration, led by the union GMB and the Blacklist Support Group, aimed to enlist support from the company’s shareholders and the Swedish public.
GMB news release • Blacklist blog • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Rail worker fired for resisting an assault
A rail worker employed by London Midland was fired because he resisted a physical and verbal assault by a known troublemaker. Revenue protection officer James Crabtree was working on the gateline at Watford Junction when he asked the individual to produce a valid travel ticket.
RMT news release • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Crossrail targeted over blacklisting
Crossrail has become a key target of anti-blacklisting campaigners. Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Blacklist Support Group last month, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey accused Crossrail of neglecting workers’ rights and failing to investigate claims that blacklisting is taking place on the £15bn project.
Union News • Building • Evening Standard • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Campaigners vow to take on the blacklisters
Unions and campaigners have pledged to take on the individuals responsible for blacklisting workers for their union and site safety activities. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey and GMB general secretary Paul Kenny announced at the Blacklist Support Group's 23 March AGM in London a new front in the campaign against those who unlawfully persecute union members.
Reel News video report • Morning Star • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Major anti-blacklisting breakthrough
Trade unions have achieved what they describe as ‘a major breakthrough’ in the campaign against blacklisting. Employers’ representatives on the Construction Industry Joint Council (CIJC), responsible for the official union-employer industrial Working Rule Agreement which covers 500,000 construction workers, agreed on 20 March to insert a new anti-blacklisting clause, as a result of strong union pressure.
UCATT news release • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Blacklister Balfour Beatty is sorry it got caught
The head of construction giant Balfour Beatty has told MPs he regrets the firm getting caught blacklisting safety and union activists, but seemed less concerned about the blacklisting itself. In 12 March evidence to a House of Commons’ Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry, Mike Peasland, the company’s chief executive officer (CEO), claimed “I don’t know” in response to a series of questions from MPs about what information was fed to covert blacklister The Consulting Association, when and by whom.
Stronger Unions blog • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Union protest in Dundee over blacklisting
Over 200 construction workers joined a 9 March demonstration in Dundee to protest at the blacklist used by major firms to weed out workers who had raised safety concerns at work. They want the Scottish government to launch an inquiry into the practice in Scotland.
Unite news release • BBC News Online • The Courier • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Crossrail must answer blacklisting charges
A worker on the Crossrail project who believes he was blacklisted because of his union and safety activities has won the right to challenge his sacking. London Central Employment Tribunal ruled last week that both Crossrail and contractor Bam Ferrovial Kier (BFK) should appear in court to answer the allegations that Unite safety rep Frank Morris was unfairly dismissed in September 2012 from Europe’s biggest construction project.
Blacklist blog • Unite news release • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Blacklisted worker wins human rights argument
A blacklisted worker who was denied justice because he was an agency worker has been told his human rights may have been violated and has been granted leave to appeal. An Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) this week decided that construction giant Carillion must face human rights claims over its role in the construction industry blacklisting scandal.
Blacklist blog • GMB news release • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Electricians hit hardest by site blacklist
Skilled electricians were the group worst affected by the blacklisting scandal, a union analysis has found. GMB researchers reviewed the occupations of workers on an illegal blacklist held by The Consulting Association and found electricians were twice as likely to be blacklisted as labourers, the second largest group targeted.
GMB news release • The Mirror • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Probe into police complicity in blacklisting
Construction union UCATT has welcomed news that the Metropolitan Police is to conduct a major investigation into allegations that the police colluded in the blacklisting of construction workers. The new inquiry follows a review of a complaint made last November on behalf of the Blacklist Support Group that officers has supplied information to those compiling blacklists.
UCATT news release • Channel 4 News • Morning Star • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Blacklist Support Group AGM, 23 March 2013
The Blacklist Support Group’s annual general meeting, which will take place in London on Saturday, 23 March, will be the “largest meeting of blacklisted workers ever assembled in one place.” The group says attendees will “discuss the ongoing campaign against the illegal construction industry blacklist in the courts, in parliament, with the unions and on sites.” Speakers include general secretaries Len McCluskey of Unite, Paul Kenny of GMB and Steve Murphy of UCATT. Also addressing the event will be labour rights expert Professor Keith Ewing and leading employment rights lawyer John Hendy QC.
Blacklist Support Group AGM, 10:30am-4:00pm, Saturday, 23 March 2013, Faraday House, 48-51 Old Gloucester Street, London, WCIN 3AE. All welcome • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Action call on ‘tough’ blacklisting companies
There should be to a further investigation of the ‘tough’ blacklisting activities of Balfour Beatty and Skanska, the union UCATT has said. The union call came after Mary Kerr, the bookkeeper with the covert blacklisting organisation The Consulting Association (TCA), described Balfour Beatty and Skanska as “very tough” when it came to blacklisting as they would not employ anyone on the list, while other companies could take a more lenient attitude.
UCATT news release. BBC News Online. The Report, BBC Radio 4, 14 February 2013 • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
USA: Miner who raised safety concerns gets sued
A Kentucky miner who raised safety concerns and got fired from his welding job is now being sued by his former employer and blacklisted by other mines. Reuben Shemwell is now wrapped in a messy legal battle with his former employer, an affiliate of Armstrong Coal, which shut down the mine when the safety regulator stepped in.
Lex18.com • Huffington Post • The Pump Handle • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Construction workers to challenge police over blacklist
Solicitors acting for thousands of construction workers are appealing a decision by the Metropolitan police not to investigate claims that officers supplied information to an illegal blacklist of construction workers.
Building • The Guardian • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: GMB calls on councils to boycott blacklisters
The union GMB is calling on local councils not to award any new public work to the companies that operated the blacklist until they compensate those they victimised. The union has published a map setting out where the 3,213 workers on the blacklist either lived or worked.
GMB news release and related article and map • East London Advertiser • Building • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: GMB welcomes ICO change of heart
A decision by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to cooperate with union solicitors in a blacklisting legal case has been welcomed by GMB. The union was commenting after ICO indicated it would work with GMB solicitors Leigh Day, which is preparing a compensation case for over the 200 GMB members on the construction industry blacklist.
GMB news release • Morning Star • BBC News Online • Daily Record • The Times • The Herald • Lancashire Evening Post • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Pressure increases for blacklisting action
Unions have urged the government to initiate a major inquiry into blacklisting, on a par with the Leveson probe into phone hacking. The calls came ahead of a 23 January debate in parliament, where shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said: “I believe that what happened in the past needs to be investigated”.
Unite news release • UCATT news release • . Opposition day debate on Blacklisting, House of Commons, 23 January 2013 and Parliament News • Blacklist blog • Building magazine • Financial Times • The Guardian • The Scotsman • The Herald • BBC News Online • ITV News • Building • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
USA: Firm railroaded in to anti-victimisation deal
A major US rail firm that retaliated against workers who reported occupational injuries has been forced to sign a good behaviour deal with OSHA, the nation’s official health and safety enforcer. The accord signed with BNSF Railway Co details the voluntary revision of several BNSF personnel policies and requires to compensate 36 workers and remove injury report related probation extensions from 136 others.
OSHA news release and Whistleblower Protection Program • OSHA-BNSF Accord • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Sir Robert McAlpine faces High Court on blacklist
Construction firm Sir Robert McAlpine played a central role in a “conspiracy to blacklist” 3,300 people from working on Britain's major building projects, according to a multimillion-pound high court claim against the firm.
The Guardian • Building magazine • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Call for blacklisters to be barred from contracts
Firms involved in blacklisting workers should be banned from receiving contracts involving taxpayers’ cash, members of the Scottish parliament and trade unions have urged. They said they will press for a change the law to prevent firms that use blacklists from bidding for Scottish government contracts, or those that involve public money.
The Scotsman • Morning Star • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Injury highlights Crossrail safety concerns
Unite has demanded an investigation into an incident on the Crossrail project that left an electrician in hospital with 70 per cent burns. The man, who has not been named but who was working for subcontractor Barhale, was seriously injured on 12 December 2012 when he struck a below ground electrical cable on a Holborn site in central London.
Unite news release • YouTube video of Crossrail protest • Union News • Construction Enquirer • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Britain: Crossrail in Unite’s crosshairs
Site union Unite has called for answers after contractors on the £15bn Crossrail network across the south-east of England were linked to blacklisting. The union said it has “continuing and serious concerns” about how workers are treated by contractors working on the scheme, Europe’s largest construction project.
Unite news release • Construction Enquirer • ITV News • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
Britain: Crossrail blacklist allegations
The Observer newspaper has claimed that a senior manager on the Crossrail project used a secret list of trade union members provided by a blacklisting company at his previous job. According to evidence given at an employment tribunal, Ron Barron, the project's industrial relations manager, cross-checked job applicants against a secret list of workers to be barred from the industry, a list that he helped to compile.
The Observer. Daily Mirror • Risks 585 • 8 December 2012
Britain: Blacklisting scandal greater that phone-hacking row
As the blacklisting scandal continues to unfold, a leading journalist, Seamus Milne, has said that the impact on the victims has been just as great as the phone-hacking scandal, but there has been no enquiry. Mr Milne says that in both scandals, the evidence of illegality, surveillance and conspiracy is incontrovertible.
Guardian • Risks 585 • 8 December 2012
Britain: ODA pressed on Olympics blacklisting action
Construction union UCATT has told the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) it will not be allowed to sweep blacklisting at the London Olympics construction project under the carpet. UCATT made the demand after ODA chief executive Dennis Hone told the London Assembly that there was no evidence that blacklisting occurred on the Olympics and that Olympic contractors had given assurances that they were not involved in blacklisting.
UCATT news release • Morning Star • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
USA: Mine watchdog protects more whistleblowers
The US mine safety watchdog has demanded a record number of fired miners be reinstated after they were dismissed for standing up for safety. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) reports it filed more than 39 requests during fiscal year 2012 for temporary reinstatements on behalf of miners.
MSHA news release • State Journal • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Union says McAlpine had an Olympic blacklist
Construction union UCATT has accused construction giant Sir Robert McAlpine of using blacklisting checks to vet workers building the 2012 Olympic stadium. Union leaders gave evidence last week to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee probe into the industry’s blacklist run by the now defunct The Consulting Association
UCATT news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Union steps up blacklisting campaign
Construction union UCATT has launched a postcard campaign in their fight for justice for blacklisted workers. The postcards are to be sent to MPs and request that MPs sign an Early Day Motion 609 on Blacklisted Workers, seeks support for a public inquiry into the blacklisting scandal and for calls for blacklisting to become a criminal offence.
UCATT news release • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Britain: Blacklisting goes far beyond construction
Rail union RMT have demanded full disclosure of a secret 'RMT File' held by blacklisting organisation The Consulting Association as evidence mounts of police and security services involvement in the targeting of union activists in the construction and railway industries.
RMT news release • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Guatemala: Aluminium workers face abuse
When Emeterio Nach suffered a shoulder injury at his job, he asked his supervisor at the Ternium aluminium processing plant in Villa Nueva, Guatemala, for time off to see his doctor. In an interview with the US union backed Solidarity Center, he says the supervisor continued to refuse, finally telling Nach he would be fired if he kept asking - and if he was sick, he'd be fired anyway because the factory needed healthy workers.
AFL-CIO Now blog • Solidarity Center interview • SITRATERNIUM facebook page – tell the union you ‘like’ it.
Take action now: Write to Paolo Rocca, chair of Ternium SA • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: Shock as true extent of blacklist is revealed
Unions are demanding answers after it was revealed a secret industry blacklist of union reps and safety activists could be 20 times bigger than previously thought, targeting tens of thousands of workers. The union call came after a 17 October session of the House of Commons’ Scottish Affairs Select Committee heard that in 2009 when the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) raided covert, construction industry-backed blacklisting organisation The Consulting Association it only removed 5 per cent of the organisation’s files, a blacklist of 3,213 workers.
UCATT news release • The Mirror • Morning Star • Financial Times • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: Labour demands answers from ICO
Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna has written to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), demanding to know why it did not seek a wider search warrant for its blacklisting raids, and whether it is investigating the existence of other lists targeting union and safety activists. The letter from the Labour MP calls the saga a “tragedy” and adds it was a matter of “great concern” that the vast majority of documents at the offices of The Consulting Association raided in 2009 were left untouched.
Construction News • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: Blacklisters to go before a judge
Some of the UK’s biggest construction firms are being dragged into court to answer allegations they blacklisted trade union safety activists. Ahead of the union-initiated legal action, Carillion chief executive Richard Howson apologised for his firm’s part in the scandal.
GMB news release • Carillion apology and blacklisting response webpages • The Scotsman • Financial Times • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: RMT strike against Mitie victimisation
Rail union RMT has announced strike action and action short of a strike by rail members working on the Mitie contract on First Great Western over the “blatant victimisation” of union representative Sharon Petrie, who had raised safety and other concerns.
RMT news release • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Britain: Bus drivers victimised for wearing union logo
Two bus drivers threatened with the sack for being union reps have won £16,000 in compensation from transport giant Arriva. The RMT pair was awarded the cash after an employment tribunal ruled the bus and train company unlawfully discriminated against them for wearing “unauthorised” high visibility safety vests displaying the union logo.
Daily Mirror • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Britain: Blacklisting campaigners call on Labour to act
Unions have taken their campaign for better protection against blacklisting to this week’s Labour Party conference in Manchester. Speaking in a 1 October debate on employment rights, UCATT delegate Terry Renshaw called for a public inquiry into the role of the state in blacklisting construction workers and said the next Labour government should outlaw the “nasty, deceitful, vindictive activity” which targeted union reps for their safety and other workplace activities, while outside the event, GMB members - one dressed as Death - protested against Carillion.
UCATT news release • Morning Star • Daily Mirror • Evening Standard • Union News • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Britain: RMT to ballot for action over driverless Tube
Tube union RMT has confirmed it is to ballot for strike action and action short of a strike in a dispute over plans to “rip up the safety rule book” and begin the testing of driverless trains on London Underground. Initially, RMT will be balloting all members who are test train drivers but the union has also made it clear that it will be looking at other grades that could be called upon to test-drive units with a view to balloting those staff as well. RMT news release • London24 • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: Drivers have no truck with driverless trains
Train drivers’ union ASLEF has told London Underground its members will play no part in development tests relating to driverless trains. A letter from general secretary Mick Whelan has informed the company that ASLEF members who are Test Train Operators and Duty Team Leaders will not work on any project to test driverless trains from 29 September.
ASLEF news release • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: Unite urges Crossrail to enter into victimisation talks
Unite is calling for urgent talks with Crossrail to thrash out cases of trade union victimisation, including the firing of union reps who raised safety concerns. The union has been seeking a project agreement for over a year with Crossrail which it says could benefit the thousands of workers employed on the largest construction project in Europe.
Unite news release • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: Union alleges contractor was dumped over safety
A union has warned that targeting unions reps for raising safety concerns could lead to tragedy on a London site. The comments from Unite came as union members protested outside a west London Crossrail site at the dismissal of 28 workers, allegedly for raising health and safety concerns.
Morning Star • Construction Enquirer • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Britain: Unions condemn unfair dismissal changes
Government plans to reduce payouts for unfair dismissals will do nothing to boost economic growth and make it easier for bad employers to mistreat their staff, unions have warned.
TUC news release • BIS news release • STUC news release • Unite news release • GMB news release • BECTU news release • CWU news release • Morning Star • The Guardian • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Britain: Blacklisters should be jailed, say unions
Blacklisting of workers for their union and safety activities should be made an imprisonable offence, delegates to the TUC’s annual congress has heard.
UCATT news release • Unite news release • Risks 573 • 15 September 201
Britain: Carillion was a blacklister, GMB insists
GMB has dismissed complaints from construction giant Carillion that the union is “presenting a grossly distorted and misleading portrait of Carillion insofar as blacklisting is concerned.” Carillion, which said the union’s claims were “a disgrace”, was responding after the union gave evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee and protested outside Swansea Crown Court, where the firm is facing a prosecution following the death of a construction worker.
GMB news release • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Britain: Just 1-in-20 know they were blacklisted
Only 194 of the 3,213 workers on a construction-industry run blacklist exposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in 2009 know they were targeted three years on, the union GMB has said. The situation is an “indictment” of the ICO, the union said, describing the privacy watchdog’s excuses for not contacting blacklisted workers as “so weak as to be a joke.”
GMB news release • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Britain: Grim reaper visits Carillion death hearing
Workers employed by Carillion who were blacklisted after raising safety concerns have protested outside a court in Swansea where the firm is being prosecuted after a site death. Protesters, one dressed as the grim reaper, carried placards bearing the words ‘Carillion blacklisted health and safety representatives says GMB’ and ‘Carillion corporate bullying risks death and injuries on sites.’
GMB news release • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Britain: Bar blacklisters from official contracts – MP
Labour MP Jim Sheridan has called for construction firms guilty of blacklisting trade unionists to be barred from publicly funded projects. The MP, speaking at a 27 August Blacklist Support Group protest outside the Glasgow HQ of construction giant Balfour Beatty, said: “Any contracts from British taxpayers' money - don't give them to criminals like Balfour Beatty who are blacklisting people.”
Jim Sheridan MP news release • Morning Star • Blacklist blog • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Britain: Balfour Beatty boss accused of perjury
A blacklisted construction worker has accused a top executive of construction giant Balfour Beatty of perjury. Colin Trousdale, a blacklisted electrician and UNITE member from Manchester alleged the company’s human resources director, Gerry Harvey, had sent a letter to the court asserting “there is no blacklist, we are not blacklisting you, you are paranoid” – but his blacklisting file contained company documentation proving this wasn’t true.
Blacklist blog • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Britain: Union threatens legal action over blacklisting
The GMB trade union has called on the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) to take proactive action to inform 2,863 builders that they are on a 'blacklist' that the ICO has been in possession of since 2009. GMB also wants to see the 44 blacklisting companies prosecuted and has threatened to take legal action if this does not happen. The move follows a long campaign for action that followed the revelation that there was a secret database of 3,500 construction workers which was used by 44 companies to vet new recruits and keep out of employment trade union and health and safety activists.
GMB news release • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Britain: Blacklist firm has a director on HSE’s board
A blacklisted construction worker has expressed concern at the appointment to the Health and Safety Executive’s board of a top director with construction giant Laing O’Rourke, one of the companies named in a major UK safety blacklisting scandal.
Howard Shiplee, who joined Laing O’Rourke as an executive director in October 2011, took his place on the HSE board on 13 August 2012.
Blacklist blog and list of firms linked to The Consulting Association • DWP news release • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
Britain: Liberty backs union blacklisting inquiry calls
The surveillance and blacklisting of thousands of workers, many targeted for their union safety activities, should be investigated immediately by the privacy watchdog, human rights watchdog Liberty has said. Liberty has written to the Information Commissioner, Sir Christopher Graham, accusing him of inaction over a privacy scandal that it compares to phone hacking.
The Independent • People Management • Belfast Telegraph • Risks 568 • 11 August 2012
Britain: Blacklisted workers launch £600m court action
Blacklisted workers in the UK have launched a High Court claim against construction giant Sir Robert McAlpine which could potentially be worth £600 million. Law firm Guney, Clark & Ryan served a claim on behalf of 86 claimants for ‘Tort of unlawful conspiracy’ at the High Court.
Blacklist blog • The Observer and related comment piece • Morning Star • Irish Times • Construction Enquirer • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Britain: College safety rep targeted for redundancy
Further education union UCU is calling for support after effective trade union safety rep Mike Whatmore was targeted for redundancy. The union branch commented: “Mike is an effective UCU rep, who robustly defends members and has been proactive in highlighting health and safety issues at the college,” adding: “The branch believes that this is the reason he is being faced with the sack at such short notice.”
Newcastle College UCU branch news release and UCU petition to save Mike Whatmore • Email a message of support on send your message on Twitter @NclCollUCU using the hashtag #SaveMike • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: Victimised over safety? That will be £1,200 please
Workers victimised for raising safety concerns will soon have to pay £1,200 if they want to seek justice at an employment tribunal. Unions have branded the move, announced last week by the government, ‘a disgrace’.
TUC news release • UNISON news release • Ministry of Justice news release • Government response to the consultation Introducing fees in employment tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunal, 13 July 2012 • The Guardian • Morning Star • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
Britain: Union blacklisting campaign gathers pace
A union campaign for a comprehensive law to protect union safety activists from blacklisting has led to the issue being progressed at the highest levels in Europe. Labour MEP Glenis Willmott gave a cautious welcome to a confirmation from the European Commission that, as part of its upcoming review of health and safety legislation, it will ensure that EU law is being followed and that workers’ health and safety reps are not being put at a disadvantage by employers.
Blacklist blog • Glenis Willmott MEP news release • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
Britain: Sacked for requesting a waterproof coat
A Barnet parking attendant required to brave the recent heavy rains was sacked by contractor NSL when he asked for a waterproof jacket. The union GMB is calling for the reinstatement of Babatunde Ojikutu, a GMB member and one of 60 Barnet council employees who transferred to NSL along with the parking enforcement contract on 1 May this year.
GMB news release • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
USA: Union workers keep workplaces ethical
Workers protected by a union contract create more ethical workplaces, a US study suggests. A report by the Ethics Resource Center (ERC), ‘Inside the mind of a whistleblower,’ found union employees, who are often provided explicit contractual protections, had much higher rates of reporting specific misconduct than non-union employees.
AFL-CIO Now blog • Inside the mind of a whistleblower, Ethics Resource Center, 2012. Government Accountability Project commentary • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: Screw turns on blacklisting employers
Firms who were involved in a massive covert blacklisting scheme targeting union and safety activists are facing a three-pronged attack and public exposure. A report from the union GMB released this week exposes widespread use of the blacklist by construction giant Carillion.
GMB news release and full report, Blacklisting - illegal corporate bullying endemic, systemic and deep-rooted in Carillion and other companies [pdf] • Blacklist blog • Public Sector Construction • The Scotsman • Express and Star • Building • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: MPs hear blacklisters named and shamed
The House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee has heard a marathon two hour evidence session from Blacklist Support Group secretary Dave Smith as part of its ongoing investigation into blacklisting in employment. As part of his 12 June evidence, the former UCATT safety rep who an Employment Tribunal this year accepted was blacklisted for his union safety activities, revealed a number of elected politicians had files kept of them by covert blacklisting company The Consulting Association.
Blacklist blog • Parliament TV coverage of testimony by the Blacklist Support Group’s Dave Smith to the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee enquiry into blacklisting in employment • ITV News • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: Suspended safety rep back at work
Unite safety rep Jason Poulter, who was suspended after trying to stop a workmate stopping a mechanical saw with his hand, has been reinstated after a show of support from union members. More than 600 workers walked off the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in a show of support for the suspended safety rep.
Morning Star • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Britain: Whistleblowing law undermined by the ‘back door’
The government is bringing in an amendment which will undermine the law on whistleblowing “by the back door”, an employment law expert has warned – and the protection of safety reps and whistleblowers is in the firing line. David Lewis, professor of employment law at Middlesex University and convenor of the International Whistleblowing Research Network, says the section 12 one-line amendment introduced in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill would mean disclosures made by whistleblowers would have to be “in the public interest” in order to protect the individual if they are made redundant or suffer detriment as a result of doing so.
Public Concern at Work news release and briefing • Personnel Today • The Bureau Investigates. Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill [pdf] • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Britain: Worker fired after challenging unsafe work
A woman who was fired after challenging a management move she felt would leave her at risk of violence has won an unfair dismissal claim. GMB member Karen Seacombe, 48, lost her job as a social club steward after a dispute with her employer over attending burglar alarm call-outs at night on her own.
GMB news release • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Australia: Toyota faces legal action safety rep sackings
Toyota in Australia targeted safety reps and shop stewards for redundancy because of their union activity, industrial union AMWU has charged. AMWU’s David Smith said the treatment of unionised workers and health and safety representatives was disgusting and could have wider ramifications.
AMWU news release • Maurice Blackburn Lawyers news release • Google News • Herald Sun • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Britain: Full judgment exposes blacklisting scandal
A tribunal judge has issued a damning verdict on construction giant Carillion's use of blacklisting - and the weak laws which denied its victims justice. The judgment by Judge Snelson, which had been reserved from January, said: “It seems to us that he has suffered a genuine injustice and we greatly regret that the law provides him with no remedy.”
Blacklist blog • Morning Star • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
USA: Republicans seek to silence whistleblowers
Republican lawmakers have indicated it is more important to let employers police themselves on workplace safety than it is to give workers protection when they blow the whistle on unsafe practices. In comments to Daily Labor Report last week, Republican Representative John Kline revealed Republicans are particularly opposed to the additional $4.9 million (£3.1m) for worker whistleblower protection and the $3.2 million (£2m) cut in the voluntary employer compliance program that was the hallmark of the Bush administration.
AFL-CIO Now blog • AFL-CIO Executive Council statement • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
Britain: Cameron ignores call for a blacklisting public inquiry
The prime minister has said the police should investigate police complicity in the blacklisting of trade union and safety activists. The response came in parliament this week after two Labour MPs had called separately for a public inquiry into revelations from the Information Commissioner’s Office that information held by covert blacklisting outfit The Consulting Association could only have been provided by the police or security services.
Blacklist blog • Hansard, 15 March 2012 and 21 March 2012 • Construction Enquirer • 24 March 2012
Britain: Scrapping unfair dismissal ‘will horrify employees’
Government plans to scrap protection from unfair dismissal are a charter for nasty bosses, the TUC has indicated. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said “while this proposal does nothing for growth, it does show the kind of economy those close to the prime minister want to create - one in which nasty bosses are given full license to undermine those trying to maintain decent standards.”
BIS news release and call for evidence • TUC news release • CIPD news release • BBC News Online • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
Britain: Security services linked to blacklist of site reps
The police or security services supplied information to a blacklist funded by the country's major construction firms that has kept thousands of people out of work over the past three decades. It says the connection was made by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which believes records that could only have come from the police or MI5 were included in a vast database of files held on 3,200 victims, most targeted for their trade union - and particularly safety - activities.
The Observer • Blacklist blog • Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
Britain: RMT demands publication of secret ‘RMT File’
Rail union RMT has demanded full disclosure of a secret ‘RMT File’ held by The Consulting Association. RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “The Information Commissioner’s Office knows that an ‘RMT File’ exists in The Consulting Association records, as it is cross referenced in information from the construction industry files that we have in our possession.”
RMT news release • The Observer • Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
Britain: Blacklisting firm held file on oil industry academic
A secret blacklisting file opened on an academic who researched health and safety following the Piper Alpha oil rig disaster claims the offshore oil industry threatened to cut funding to his university if he “continued to cause problems”. Professor Charles Woolfson had published extensively on safety regimes in the North Sea while he was industrial relations professor at the University of Glasgow and wrote a well-regarded book, Paying The Piper.
Taking out the Trash blog • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Britain: Law fails blacklisted agency worker
The construction giant Carillion has admitted a construction worker was blacklisted because of his trade union activities and efforts to improve site safety, but has escaped responsibility because he was an agency worker. The revelation came during an employment tribunal brought against the firm by engineer and former UCATT safety rep Dave Smith.
Blacklist blog • Daily Mirror • Construction Enquirer • Morning Star • Socialist Worker • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
Britain: LibDems oppose safety rep protection
LibDems in the European Parliament have voted with centre right parties to ensure the failure of a proposal to protect workplace safety reps from blacklisting and victimisation.
The vote in Strasbourg followed a debate on a mid-term review of the European Union’s health and safety strategy.
Blacklist Support Group report • Risks 530 • 5 November 2011
Thailand: Union leaders fired for safety stand
Thailand’s state railway has dismissed seven union leaders who demanded urgent safety improvements. It follows an earlier ruling by the Thai Labour Court that the sackings could proceed, a decision condemned by union bodies worldwide.
Bangkok Post • Risks 525 • 1 October 2011
Cambodia: Union members ‘dismissed’ over safety fears
A garment factory hit by two mass fainting incidents in August has been accused of trying to get rid of workers who subsequently joined the Free Trade Union to push for better working conditions. FTU president Chea Mony has written to the Ministry of Labour alleging that 20 employees who had joined the union at the M&V factory in Kampong Chhnang province had been told their contracts were expiring at the end of September. Phnom Penh Post and related story • Risks 525 • 1 October 2011
Europe: MEPs back safer oil rigs with safety reps
Euro-MPs have called for tougher oil rig safety standards, support for elected offshore safety reps and job protection for safety whistleblowers. The overwhelming 602-64 vote of the European Parliament on 13 September also backed a call “on the industry to follow best practice on safety representatives,” adding “employees should be able to elect a safety representative who is involved in safety issues at all levels of the operational and decision-making process.”
European Parliament news release • Peter Skinner MEP news release • The Independent • Risks 523 • 17 September 2011
Britain: Judge backs worker against ‘blacklisting’ Carillion
Former site worker Dave Smith has won the latest stage of his legal battle against construction multinational Carillion. The case could set an important precedent as Mr Smith does not accuse the company of victimising him directly, but of enabling his victimisation by providing critical information to a covert blacklisting organisation.
Blacklist blog • Daily Mirror • Risks 521 • 3 September 2011
USA: Hyatt hotel tries to fry workers
Late in July, when hotel workers at the Park Hyatt Chicago hotel went on strike after nearly two years of fruitless negotiations, they set up a picket line at the front entrance. That’s when management turned the heat on, literally, by firing up 10 heat lamps in the awning above the entrance - on a day when the National Weather Service had issued an excessive heat warning for temperatures above 100 degrees.
Labor Notes. In These Times • AFL-CIO Now blog • CBS Chicago • Risks 517 • 6 August 2011
USA: OSHA plans to protect whistleblowers
Workplace safety whistleblowers will have greater protection from victimisation, the US government safety watchdog OSHA has said. It says new measures will improve investigator training and avoid long delays in completing investigations.
OSHA news release and whistleblower factsheet • FairWarning • Risks 517 • 6 August 2011
Thailand: ‘Disbelief’ at labour court safety ruling
Unions worldwide have responded with ‘shock and disbelief’ to a Thai Labour Court decision to allow the dismissal of seven leaders of the SRUT railway workers’ trade union for their part in safety-related industrial action two years ago. RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “The decision of the Thai Labour Court is a politically motivated attack on a rail union that has done nothing other than fight for safety on their rail network.”
ITF news release and study of safety standards at SRT • ITUC news release • RMT news release • Risks 517 • 6 August 2011
Europe: Blacklisting campaign goes Europe-wide
UK anti-blacklisting campaigners believe a Europe-wide law banning the practice could have moved a step closer, after a top level meeting with European officials and politicians. A delegation of blacklisted trade unionists and safety representatives from the Blacklist Support Group held private talks in Brussels last week with EU commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion László Andor.
BSG news release • Blacklist blog • Morning Star • Risks 513 • 9 July 2011
Britain: Victimisation is money down the tube
London Underground (LUL) has thrown at least £250,000 down the Tube trying to defend its ‘indefensible’ victimisation of train operator Arwyn Thomas, the union RMT has estimated. Six-figure legal fees, management time spent preparing for and attending six days of tribunals, including senior managers on £600-plus a day, on top of Arwyn’s salary – paid on the orders of an interim hearing in January – add up at least to the cost of employing 20 modern apprentices for a year, the union says.
RMT news release • Risks 515 • 11 June 2011
Britain: Company's safety award is a 'joke'
Trade unionists have branded as ‘a joke’ the award of a prestigious health and safety prize to construction firm Balfour Beatty. The company received the Sir George Earle Trophy from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) despite being notorious for sacking and blacklisting health and safety reps.
RoSPA news release and Balfour Beatty award citation • Blacklist blog • Morning Star • Risks 507 • 28 May 2011
Britain: Tube movement as safety rep is reinstated
Tube union RMT has confirmed strike action by London Underground drivers due to commence next week has been suspended. The move follows an agreement with London Underground to re-employ unfairly sacked driver and RMT safety rep Eamonn Lynch, and agreement to hold further discussion aimed at resolving the unfair dismissal of sacked driver Arwyn Thomas in advance of his Employment Tribunal.
RMT news release and earlier release on Eamonn Lynch’s employment tribunal victory • BBC News Online • Risks 505 • 14 May 2011
Britain: Tube drivers vote to protect union reps
Members of the Tube union RMT have voted by almost two-to-one for strike action in defence of two union reps. The union says safety rep Eamon Lynch and fellow union rep Arwyn Thomas were targeted for their trade union activities, after challenging cuts that could turn the underground system into a “death trap.”
RMT news release • Risks 503 • 30 April 2011
Britain: Olympic site blockaded in blacklist protest
Union protesters blocked the entrance to London’s Olympic site last week in support of victimised construction worker Frank Morris. The Enfield-based electrician was shifted from his job at the prestigious media centre at the Olympic site after blowing the whistle on the use of an illegal blacklist on the construction project.
Blacklist blog • Morning Star • Risks 502 • 16 April 2011
Britain: Strike ballot on safety rep victimisation
Tube union RMT has served notice on London Underground (LU) it intends to ballot for strike action in an escalation of on-going disputes over the victimisation of union activists. One of the affected members, Tube driver Eamon Lynch, is the RMT Bakerloo Line drivers’ health and safety rep.
RMT news release • Risks 501 • 9 April 2011
Britain: Anti-blacklist demo targets Olympic site
Anti-blacklist protesters caused chaos outside London’s Olympic Park this week when they stopped deliveries getting onto the site for more than an hour. Traffic ground to a halt in Pudding Mill Lane on 1 March as demonstrators from unions and the Blacklist Support Group, backing fired electrician Frank Morris, crossed continually a zebra crossing near the site gates.
Blacklist blog • Construction Enquirer • Morning Star • Risks 496 • 5 March 2011
Australia: Court backs victimised safety rep
Australian shipping giant Patrick Stevedoring has been fined Aus$180,000 (£112,600) after it was found guilty of discriminating against a union safety rep who raised safety concerns. The worker, an experienced stevedore and an elected health and safety representative with the docks union MUA, raised concerns about the safety of a new basket-lifting technique on three occasions in 2007 and was subsequently threatened by a manager, then disciplined.
Herald Sun • ACTU news release • MUA news release • Transport and Logistics News • Risks 491 • 29 January 2011
Britain: RMT defends victimised safety rep
The sacking of an RMT safety rep has exposed London Underground’s (LU) “total contempt” for decent employment practice, his union has said. Train operator Eamon Lynch, who was the RMT Bakerloo Line drivers’ health and safety rep and who had a 15-year unblemished service record, was “very clearly victimised for his role as an RMT activist despite management’s bogus claims that they sacked him following an ‘operational incident’,” said the union.
RMT news release • Risks 487 • 18 December 2010
Britain: How to complain
With visits by inspectors few and far between, the only way that dangerous situations can be dealt with before someone in injured or made ill is either if there is a good union presence or if the problem is reported to the enforcing authority. The HSE has just published guidance on how to complain about a problem in your workplace, but recommends that first of all you should raise it with the employer and union.
HSE guidance • Risks 484 • 27 November 2010
Britain: Construction firm guilty of blacklisting
A major construction contractor has been found guilty by an employment tribunal of blacklisting a prominent trade unionist. Ashford Employment Tribunal ruled that Unite member Phil Willis, 61, had been unlawfully refused employment by CB&I because he was a member of a trade union and a prominent activist.
Unite news release • Thompsons Solicitors news release • Morning Star • Construction Enquirer • Building • The Mirror • Blacklist blog • Risks 483 • 20 November 2010
Britain: London protest in support of Ark Tribe, 2 November
Construction safety campaigners are to mount a protest outside the Australian High Commission in London to protest at the victimisation of a union rep who is being prosecuted after making a stand on site safety. The 2 November event is in support of
Ark Tribe, a safety rep with the Australian construction union CFMEU.
‘Don't Jail Ark!’ campaign and “tell your mates” tool from Rights at Work. London protest in support of Ark Tribe, 4.15pm prompt, 2 November, Australian High Commission, The Strand, London • Risks 480 • 30 October 2010
USA: Whistleblowers need a new protector
An official US government report critical of the lack of protection provided to workplace safety whistleblowers has led to calls for a new agency to protect workers. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) report concluded the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had neglected its whistleblower protection role.
PEER news release • GAO report [pdf] • OSHA statement on the GAO report • ProPublica blog • Risks 475 • 25 September 2010
Britain: UCATT steps up blacklisting campaign
Construction union UCATT has stepped up its campaign to end blacklisting. The union’s motion at this week’s TUC Congress in Manchester, calling for the new regulations to ensure that blacklisting is finally made illegal once and for all, was unanimously carried.
UCATT news release • Risks 474 • 18 September 2010
Britain: Reinstatement demand for sacked whistleblowers
Construction union UCATT is pursuing legal action in support of members who were dismissed after raising serious safety concerns. The union says problems at the Velindre Electricity sub-station construction site in Swansea began in February 2010, when the workers were suspended by J2M - a consortium of Morrison Utility Services, Jacobs Engineering and Mitsubishi Electric.
UCATT news release • Risks 473 • 11 September 2010
Britain: Blacklisting case heads to full tribunal
An electrician blacklisted from the construction industry has 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.
Morning Star • Blacklist blog • Risks 469 • 14 August 2010
Britain: Virgin shamed by assault victim firing
Rail union RMT could ballot staff for industrial action following the dismissal of a member who took a period of absence after an “horrific” on-train assault. RMT officials are preparing the ground for an “urgent ballot” of all on-train catering and train manager members [guards] at Liverpool Lime Street following the dismissal of Jackie Catterson.
RMT news release • Risks 468 • 7 August 2010
Britain: Blacklist bosses to be named and shamed
Construction bosses who personally sanctioned the use of blacklists in the industry are set to be named and shamed. A tribunal ruling means the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) must now reveal full details relating to a number of test cases – including invoices, correspondence and documentation detailing the business and organisational relationships between The Consulting Association and construction firms must be released under the terms of the ruling.
Construction Enquirer • Blacklist blog • Risks 458 • 29 May 2010
Britain: UCATT calls for more site protection
Construction union UCATT has vowed to keep the pressure on government over blacklisting and bogus self-employment.
Morning Star • Risks 457 • 22 May 2010
Britain: Site firms scoop blacklisting awards
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.
Blacklist blog • Risks 454 • 1 May 2010
Britain: Whistleblowing ETs could attract regulators
Employers that choose to dismiss or pay off workplace whistleblowers could face further investigation from 6 April, when the current bar on employment tribunals (ETs) revealing any details of whistleblowing allegations outside of the tribunal process is lifted. Under the new system, tribunals will be able to refer claims to the relevant regulatory authority, such as the Serious Fraud Office or Health and Safety Executive, for further investigation.
Personnel Today • Blacklist blog • Risks 450 • 3 April 2010
Britain: Work safety is a top whistleblower concern
The number of employees claiming to have been sacked, mistreated or bullied for exposing corrupt practices at work has increased tenfold over the last decade, according to official figures – and raising health and safety issues remains one of the top concerns. Blacklist blog • Risks 449 • 27 March 2010
Britain: New blacklisting regulations “too weak”
Construction union UCATT has said it is “bitterly disappointed” with the new anti-blacklisting regulations, repeating its warning the measures are so weak that they will not prevent blacklisting from occurring. Employment relations minister Lord Young announced the new measures, which came into effect on 2 March.
BIS news release • UCATT news release • Blacklist blog • Risks 446 • 6 March 2010
Thailand: Railway workers need support
An international campaign has been launched to support six Thai union officials who have been sacked after union members refused to drive trains they believed were unsafe. The action also happened after the Thai national rail company (SRT) had cut jobs.
Risks 443 • 13 February 2010
Britain: ‘Inadequate’ blacklisting law is delayed
Construction union UCATT says it has won a delay in the implementation of a blacklisting law, after raising concerns about the adequacy of the measures. The union says it wrote to and contacted directly members of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, expressing “grave concerns” about the proposed law.
UCATT news release • Blacklist blog • Risks 441 • 30 January 2010
USA: Black workers put in radiation risk jobs
The Studsvik Memphis Processing Facility in Tennessee, a US company that processes nuclear waste, has agreed to settle compensation claims with black employees who were assigned to jobs with higher radiation exposures but who then had their dose meters doctored to show lower exposure levels. “Some of the discrimination allege d in this case is unusually extreme because of the physical danger it created for African American employees,” said Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) acting chair Stuart J Ishimaru.
EEOC news release • Memphis Commercial Appeal • UPI.com • Risks 440 • 23 January 2010
Britain: Blacklist law won’t end ‘despicable’ practice
Construction union UCATT has said it is ‘deeply disappointed’ with the government’s ‘fundamentally flawed’ blacklisting regulations. The union had told ministers the regulations as originally drafted would not end blacklisting and had hoped the government would revise the proposed law, but this has not happened.
UCATT news release • Building • Blacklist blog • Risks 440 • 23 January 2010
Global: Construction blacklisting campaign goes global
Construction unions from around the world have backed proposals to stamp out blacklisting wherever it occurs. The decision was taken last week by the Building and Wood Workers International (BWI), which agreed to “monitor any developments on blacklisting discovered in BWI affiliate countries” and to “assist unions in taking action where there are suspicions of a blacklist or where blacklisting practices have been confirmed.”
UCATT news release • Blacklist blog • Risks 437 • 19 December 2009
Britain: Bishops should quit over victimised vicar
The resignation of two Church of England bishops has been called for by the union Unite. The union says they presided over ‘a culture of neglect and bullying’ in the Diocese of Worcester which drove a vicar from his parish and that this week saw him evicted from his home.
Unite news release • BBC News Online • Morning Star • Risks 437 • 19 December 2009
Britain: Blacklisting lawsuit could cost firms millions
Construction companies could be facing a bill of millions of pounds after a law firm revealed it was preparing a class action suit on behalf of blacklisted workers. A report in the trade journal Building says action will be brought against over 40 firms, including Balfour Beatty, Laing O’Rourke, Kier and Costain, who were found to be using an illegal blacklist uncovered by the Information Commissioner’s Office in February.
Building • Blacklist blog • Risks 436 • 12 December 2009
Britain: UCATT outrage at blacklisting law flaws
Construction union UCATT fears new regulations designed to outlaw blacklisting contain so many loopholes they will not deter the practice. The union says the government also failed to address “the routine blacklisting of safety representatives and campaigners, which was a notable feature of the Consulting Association’s blacklisting practices.”
UCATT news release. Blacklist blog • Risks 436 • 12 December 2009
Britain: Government announces blacklisting plans
It will be unlawful for trade union members to be denied employment through blacklists under plans outlined by employment relations minister Lord Young. He said the new law will ban employers from blacklisting workers for their trade union membership or activities.
BIS news release and full government response to the blacklisting consultation [pdf] • Blacklist blog • Risk 435 • 5 December 2009
Britain: Unions welcome ‘overdue’ rules
Unions have given a qualified welcome to new regulations intended to outlaw the blacklisting of trade unionists. The laws, which need parliamentary approval before taking effect, were announced on 2 December by employment relations minister Lord Young.
UCATT news release • Unite news release • Blacklist blog • Risk 435 • 5 December 2009
Britain: Skanska’s ruse to evade blacklist blame
Building firm Skanska, the construction giant that last year ran up the largest single bill for use of The Consulting Association’s blacklisting services, has resorted to a novel defence of the illegal practice. It claims it used the blacklist of construction workers to vet employees for a history of violence and drug or alcohol abuse – a claim dismissed out of hand by those who have obtained their files.
People Management • Blacklist blog • Risks 434 • 28 November 2009
Britain: Blacklisting is a human rights abuse
Nearly 10 months after it was confirmed by the Information Commissioner that blacklisting in the construction industry was rife, something common knowledge for decades among trade union reps in the sector, new laws outlawing the practice are in preparation and the victims featured on the blacklist have started their tribunal cases.
Guardian Work • FACK news release • Blacklist blog and related posting • Morning Star • Risks 434 • 28 November 2009
Britain: RMT members were on the blacklist too
Members of a third trade union have been revealed as being victims of the infamous construction industry blacklist. A report in Tribune magazine says of the 238 files released so far, most have been on members of UCATT and Unite – but now it turns out that some RMT members were blacklisted as well.
Tribune magazine • Blacklist blog • Risks 433 • 21 November 2009
Event: Manchester TUC ‘Fighting the Blacklist’ meeting, 7.00pm, Monday 23 November, Mechanic's Institute, 103 Princess Street, Manchester M1 6DD (entrance Major Street).
Britain: UCATT protests against the blacklist
Construction union UCATT will hold a demonstration in support of victims of blacklisting outside of Manchester Employment Tribunal on 24 November. A tribunal will be hearing the initial cases of blacklisted construction workers.
UCATT news release • Blacklist blog • Risks 433 • 21 November 2009
Protest: 9.30am, Tuesday 24 November, Manchester Employment Tribunal, Alexandra House, 14-22 Parsonage, Manchester M3 2JA.
Thailand: ITF steps up rail sackings protests
The sacking of Thai rail workers for raising safety concerns has spurred a global campaign for their reinstatement. Managers at the State Railway Corporation of Thailand dismissed six SRUT union committee members and said they planned to sack a further eight union leaders in the escalating row over rail safety.
ITF news release and update •
You can help! Send a protest letter to the State Railway Corporation of Thailand • Risks 432 • 14 November 2009
Britain: Members back bullying whistleblower
Staff at Wrexham's Glyndwr University have voted “overwhelmingly” for strike action in support of a lecturer who was fired after whistleblowing about management bullying. The University and College Union (UCU) says members at the university also voted for action other than a strike in support of Hamish Murphy.
UCU news release • BBC News Online • Risks 432 • 14 November 2009
Britain: Agencies in asbestos jobs blunder
Eleven employment agencies have been warned by the Employment Agency Standards inspectorate (EAS) after advertising for asbestos removal workers without properly checking the health and safety implications. EAS said it acted swiftly on a tip off that agencies were advertising vacancies for asbestos removal workers without having the proper Health and Safety Executive (HSE) licenses.
BIS news release • EAS webpages • Risks 431 • 7 November 2009
Britain: Judge rejects SSE’s ‘paranoid’ terror claims
Power company Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has failed in a High Court bid to use the Prevention of Terrorism Act against a dismissed worker in an attempt to stop anti-blacklisting protests outside its power station construction site.
BBC News Online • Blacklist blog • Manchester Evening News • Risks 429 • 24 October 2009
Britain: Push to strengthen blacklist law
Construction union UCATT has enlisted the help of a group of Labour MPs in a move to pressure the government to beef up the draft regulations designed to outlaw blacklisting for trade union activities. The MPs agreed to take this action at the 20 October parliamentary launch of ‘Ruined Lives’, a UCATT-commissioned academic report that argues the proposed anti-blacklisting regulations need major improvements.
UCATT news release • Blacklist blog • Blacklisting ruins lives, EDM 2093 • Contract Journal • Risks 429 • 24 October 2009
Britain: Call for blacklisting inquiry
The author of a UCATT response to the government’s plans for legislation to combat blacklisting of trade unionists for their safety and other union activities has said the proposed measures “are hardly worth the paper they are printed on”. Keith Ewing, professor of public law at King’s College London, said: “The proposed regulations as put out to consultation by BIS are so full of holes that they are hardly worth the paper they are printed on.”
The Morning Star • Blacklisting blog • Contract Journal • Risks 427 • 10 October 2009
Britain: Wider action needed on blacklisting
Workers found to have been blacklisted for their safety and trade union activities should be told about the listing and should be compensated, a report for construction union UCATT has recommended. ‘Ruined Lives’ was submitted as evidence to the government’s consultation on blacklisting.
UCATT news release • Blacklist blog • Risks 424 • 19 September 2009
Britain: Judge proposes blacklist test cases
Workers who are taking legal action against employers on the grounds that they were refused employment after being blacklisted for their trade union and safety activities may have their fate decided by three test cases in north-west England.
Building • Blacklist blog • Risks 424 • 19 September 2009
Blacklist protest at major site
Building workers who claim they are being denied jobs because of an illegal blacklist protested last week outside a £350m shopping development. The Unite members believe their union activities are being used against them by firms involved in the Rock Triangle project in Bury, Greater Manchester.
Contract Journal • BBC News Online and related BBC video clip • Blacklist blog • 5 September 2009
South Africa: Safety protest workers are safe
Paper workers in South Africa who were under threat of dismissal after a safety dispute are to retain their jobs after a union campaign. The dispute between pulp and paper manufacturer Sappi and the union CEPPWAWU at the company’s Enstra mill was resolved early in August.
ICEM news release • Risks 421 • 29 August 2009
Britain: Jail threat vital to deter union blacklists
Employers and consultants who blacklist trade unionists should face the full weight of the criminal law including the ultimate sanction of imprisonment, a top law firm has said. Employment law experts Thompsons Solicitors has told business secretary Peter Mandelson that the civil law sanctions proposed by the government in its consultation on the prohibition of blacklisting are “wholly inadequate” to deal with such a fundamental attack on human rights and freedoms.
Thompsons Solicitors news release and full response by Thompsons Solicitors on The Blacklisting of Trade Unionists: Consultation on the Revised Draft Regulations • Blacklist blog • Risks 421 • 29 August 2009
Britain: Union call for tougher blacklist action
A union has called for action against unpunished blacklist users after the Information Commissioner’s Office served enforcement notices on just 14 of the subscribers to a covert blacklisting operation. The regulator said it could not take action against other 30 contractors who paid in to The Consulting Association as it did not find enough evidence against them.
Construction News • Blacklist blog • Risks 419 • 15 August 2009
Britain: Blacklist blog
Hazards magazine’s ‘blacklist blog’ is tracking the use of covert surveillance data against trade unionists – it’s a health and safety story because union health and safety activity or even concern appears to be a fast track to blacklisting, with union safety rep credentials a regular feature in blacklist dossiers. Hazards is also concerned that other seemingly legitimate outfits – management consultants and law firms, for example – may be providing blacklisting advice as part of “union avoidance” services.
Blacklist blog and related feature on the wider blacklisting concerns • Risks 418 • 8 August 2009
Britain: Construction firms “owned” blacklister
A covert operation that blacklisted trade unionists was more organised than previously thought, according to confidential internal documents. The Consulting Association was shutdown in February by the Information Commissioner for breaches of the Data Protection Act after providing construction firms with dossiers on safety and other activities by trade unionists.
The Guardian • Blacklist blog • Risks 418 • 8 August 2009
Britain: Trade in personal data cost livelihoods
Privacy watchdog the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has served enforcement notices on 14 construction firms following breaches of the Data Protection Act. The firms were all subscribers to a covert blacklisting service provided by The Consulting Association, shutdown in February by the ICO.
ICO news release [pdf] • Blacklist blog and events listing • Morning Star • Construction News • Building • Risks 418 • 8 August 2009
Britain: Blacklisted workers form action group
An informal support network for building workers blacklisted for their trade union and safety activities has been established following a meeting last week at Westminster. Labour MP John McDonnell hosted the meeting at the House of Commons, at which a decision was made to set up the Blacklist Support Group.
Building • Construction News and related article on payments to The Consulting Association • 1 August 2009
Britain: Blacklisting site firms evade justice
The private investigator whose company traded in illegally held information on over 3,000 trade unionists has received a small fine – and the firms that bankrolled and used the service are to escape scot free. A judge fined Ian Kerr, the man who ran covert blacklisting outfit the Consulting Association, £5,000 and ordered him to pay the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) costs of £1,187.
ICO news release [pdf] • The Guardian • The Times • Contract Journal • Construction News • Risks 416 • 25 July 2009
[victimisation]Britain: Unions condemn 'totally inadequate' fine
Unions have condemned as 'totally inadequate' the fine of £5,000 levied on company boss Ian Kerr who admitted running an illegal blacklisting service. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Thousands of trade unionists have been unable to work as a result of this man's activities, and may struggle to get work in the future.”
TUC news release • UCATT news release • Construction News • Risks 416 • 25 July 2009
Australia: Union official faces jail threat
A West Australian construction union official says he is prepared to go to jail in his continuing safety campaign for union members. Joe McDonald, the assistant secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) was fined Aus$10,000 (£4,880) by a Perth magistrate for unlawfully entering three building sites two years ago.
ABC News • Risks 415 • 18 July 2009
Britain: Unions welcome blacklisting ban plan
Unions have welcomed a government decision to push ahead with a ban on blacklisting of trade union activists.
Unite news release • UNISON news release • Usdaw news release • UCATT news release • Construction News • Risks 414 • 11 July 2009
Britain: Moves to outlaw blacklisting by bosses
The government has launched a consultation on new regulations that will make it unlawful for trade union members to be denied employment through secret blacklists.
Ministers say they plan to seek parliamentary approval for the regulations in the autumn and to implement them as soon as possible after that.
BIS news release and consultation [pdf] • TUC news release • The Guardian • Risks 414 • 11 July 2009
Global: Urgent! Tell Sappi to stop safety victimisation!
Global union federation ICEM is renewing its call for support for 42 Sappi workers in South Africa, victimised after making a stand on safety and who now face renewed disciplinary action on 7 July. Among other measures, management at the paper and pulp multinational has suspended all 19 shop stewards at the paper mill.
ACT NOW! ICEM call • The global union federation is urging people and organisations to send letter of protest to Sappi managers John Rowland, Andre Oberholzer, Dinga Mncube and Dave Glazebook • Risks 412 • 4 July 2009
Britain: McAlpine denies union blacklist claim
Sir Robert McAlpine, a top contributor to the coffers of an illegal blacklisting operation, is denying claims that it used a blacklist to refuse work to a former bricklayer. UCATT activist Mick Dooley launched a claim against McAlpine in the wake of the blacklisting scandal which engulfed the industry earlier this year.
Contract Journal • 4 July 2009
Britain: Don’t let them victimise safety rep Penny!
A trade union safety rep was fired in May - just for trying to keep her workplace safe. Penny Gower, an EIS activist was summarily dismissed by Carnegie College in Dunfermline after she undertook a workplace health and safety inspection, a core, legally protected, safety rep function.
Email messages of protest to Carnegie College management and copy to Penny’s EIS branch • Scottish Educational Journal, EIS, June 2009, page 12 [pdf] • Risks 412 • 27 June 2009
UCATT wins blacklist data battle
Construction workers who have been blacklisted will have more time to access their records following the direct intervention of construction union UCATT. In March the Information Commissioner revealed that over 40 major construction companies were using the services of the Consulting Association to blacklist workers, commonly because they had raised concerns about site health and safety.
UCATT news release • Risks 412 • 27 June 2009
Global: Help South Africa's Sappi workers!
Sappi, the global pulp and paper giant, has suspended 19 shop stewards in South Africa who stood up for a worker who refused dangerous work. Their union CEPPWAWU and the global union federation ICEM are asking for your support in urging management at the Enstra mill to reinstate the workers and drop disciplinary proceedings.
ICEM briefing • Send an email letter of protest to Sappi CEO Ralph J Boëttger and copy it to ICEM • Risks 411 • 20 June 2009
Britain: Food workers welcome gangmaster action
A crackdown on abusive gangmasters has been welcomed by a food union. GMB was commenting after two gangmasters has their licences revoked.
GMB Universal Services Ltd news release and GMB Saphire news release • GLA news release • Risks 409 • 6 June 2009
Britain: ‘Gutless’ blacklister sent to the Crown Court
Construction union UCATT has “warmly welcomed” the decision to refer blacklister Ian Kerr to the Crown Court for sentencing. The private investigator, who did not attend this week’s hearing at Macclesfield Magistrates Court, pleaded guilty to running an unlawful blacklisting service on building workers.
UCATT news release • ICO news release [pdf] • The Guardian • Contract Journal • Risks 408 • 30 May 2009
Britain: Skanska promises to stop blacklisting
Site union UCATT has won a commitment from construction multinational Skanska that no form of blacklisting will be tolerated on their sites and that an investigation will be launched into their past conduct.
UCATT news release • The Observer • Contract Journal • Risks 408 • 30 May 2009
Britain: Action call on construction gangmasters
Migrant worker abuse in the construction industry must be tackled within two years or the gangmaster law should be extended to cover the sector, a government select committee has recommended. The recommendation of the Home Affairs Select Committee has been welcomed by unions, but they say action should not be delayed.
The Trade in Human Beings: Human Trafficking in the UK, Home Affairs Committee - Sixth Report • UCATT news release • Unite news release • Risks 407 • 23 May 2009
Britain: Victimised union activist seeks justice
Construction giant Sir Robert McAlpine is facing a compensation claim from a blacklisted bricklayer who believes he was turned down for work by the company. UCATT activist Mick Dooley has lodged his claim with the Employment Tribunal.
Contract Journal • People Management • Risks 406 • 16 May 2009
Britain: UCATT welcomes blacklisting action
Construction union UCATT has welcomed the government’s commitment to outlaw blacklisting but says it is disappointed that the process will be delayed as a result of a fresh consultation exercise. The Information Commissioner announced in March that over 40 major construction companies were paying a company called the Consulting Association to routinely blacklist workers.
UCATT news release • Construction News • Morning Star • Risks 406 • 16 May 2009
Britain: Move to stop blacklisting of union reps
The government intends to introduce new regulations to prevent union members being denied employment by secret blacklists, business secretary Peter Mandelson has said.
BERR news release • Personnel Today • BBC News Online • The Guardian • Risks 406 • 16 May 2009
Britain: Government to review blacklisting
Following revelations that many construction companies have been subscribing to a blacklisting service that includes information on safety representatives in the industry, the government has confirmed that it will urgently review whether to outlaw blacklisting after allegations of its widespread practice in construction.
Contract Journal • Risks 404 • 2 May 2009
Britain: Government pledge to end blacklists
The government has pledged to put an end to blacklisting of safety reps and other union activists. Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the Labour Party, told the House of Commons: “I don't think a trade union health and safety representative should find they are on a blacklist and will never be able to work again.”
UCATT news release • Contract Journal • Building • Construction News • The Scotsman • The Guardian • EDM 1020 - Blacklisting in construction • Risks 398 • 21 March 2009
Britain: Law needed to outlaw blacklisting
Unions have called for the urgent introduction of new laws to protect workers from blacklisting. Regulations were due to be introduced a decade ago, but where shelved when the government said there was insufficient evidence the practice took place.
TUC news release • UCATT news release and related release • Unite news release • RMT news release • STUC news release • Risks 397 • 14 March 2009
Britain: Action threat over employee blacklist
The glittering list of contractors accused of using a ‘construction blacklist’ to vet potential employees are bracing themselves for the legal and political fallout. Unions UCATT and Unite are both seeking legal advice on suing some of the 45 contractors named in the list, while Labour MP Michael Clapham has tabled an Early Day Motion deploring the existence of the list.
ICO news release [pdf] • briefing on the Consulting Association and related ICO enforcement notice [pdf] • Construction News • The Guardian and related story and audio report • BBC News Online • Contract Journal and related story • Financial Times • The Times • The Telegraph • Risks 397 • 14 March 2009
Britain: Sick sacked RMT activist wins round one
A train driver who is also a prominent activist in his union has won the first round of his battle to reverse his dismissal. RMT union rep Derrick Marr was fired by train-operating company National Express East Anglia, ostensibly on health grounds but the union argued he had been victimised for his union activities.
RMT news release • Risks 394 • 21 February 2009
Britain: Payout for fired flea bitten whistleblower
A woman who was dismissed from her job as a waitress at Hafan y Môr holiday centre in Pwllheli after raising health and safety concerns has won an unfair dismissal claim. A tribunal accepted Maria Moon, 46, had been sacked because she raised health and safety issues after suffering flea bites in the chalet where she lived.
BBC News Online • Risks 393 • 14 February 2009
Britain: Payout for railway injury whistleblower
A rail worker has been awarded £200,000 in compensation for being sacked after he blew the whistle on a manager who asked him to lie about a workplace injury. Jim Glencross, 58, from Carlisle, said Network Rail sacked him because he reported unsafe working practices which led to a colleague being injured.
Cumberland News • BBC News Online • Risks 390 • 24 January 2009
USA: Starbucks payout for victimised barista
Global gourmet coffee chain Starbucks has been ordered to reinstate an employee who was fired after raising safety concerns and to pay him back wages. Starbucks was found to have unlawfully terminated the barista in retaliation for filing a complaint about a perennially leaking roof.
Grand Rapids Starbucks Workers Union news report • Risks 387 • 20 December 2008
threat over victimised safety rep
Around 2,500 Tube infrastructure workers at
Metronet are to be balloted for industrial action following the victimisation
of an RMT safety rep. RMT is also angry at the company’s “dangerous
plans” to reduce signals maintenance and attempts to impose rosters.
376 • 4 October 2008
Language classes make workers safer
Refuse workers in Brighton are being given
English lessons in a union-backed initiative that has led to a dramatic
improvement in safety. So many of the 400 staff at Brighton and Hove
City Council’s Hollingdean depot were being injured that bosses
and union officials teamed up to run the language classes; as a result
of the training, the accident rate has plummeted.
374 • 20 September 2008
workers need better protection
Unions have called for a tranche of measures
to provide better protection for vulnerable workers. A motion from retail
union Usdaw agreed at the TUC Congress 2008 this week said there must
be effective enforcement of rights to protect vulnerable and agency
CoVE • Risks
373 • 13 September 2008
mine whistleblower wins appeal
A federal review panel has ruled that a US
government agency illegally dismissed a manager overseeing the cleanup
of a toxic mine site for raising serious worker safety, radiation, air
and water pollution problems.
272 • 6 September 2008
Britain: Most workers
won’t blow the whistle
Fewer than one in every three workers would
blow the whistle on their employer if they broke health and safety laws,
according to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).
A YouGov poll commissioned by IOSH found that only 28 per cent of people
would report their company or organisation to the Health and Safety
Executive (HSE) if it was in breach of health and safety legislation.
272 • 6 September 2008
staff attacked at attack sacking protest
A man was arrested by plain clothes police
following an attack on striking station attendants protesting at the
victimisation of a colleague after he suffered a violent attack at work.
Around 100 RMT members at Elephant and Castle, Charing Cross and Lambeth
North Tube stations took 24 hour action on 28 July to demand the reinstatement
of Jerome Bowes, dismissed after defending himself against a violent
assault on New Year’s Eve.
367 • 2 August 2008
Europe: Lidl accused
of spying on its staff
German supermarket group Lidl has denied that
it spied on its staff, but has admitted that it placed secret cameras
in its stores. The multinational company, which also confirmed it had
employed private detectives, insisted that it carried out the measures
simply to combat shoplifting.
BusinessWeek • The
Times • Risks
350 • 5 April 2008
faces monitoring stress
Millions of employees are suffering exhaustion,
work-related anxiety and a deteriorating family life as a result of
intrusive workplace surveillance, according to extensive surveys of
both employers and employees funded by the Economic and Social Research
Council. The researchers say rising work strain is being caused by the
use of information and communications technology (ICT) to monitor and
check work continuously.
news release • Better opportunities,
greater pressures for Britain’s employees, summary [pdf] • Hazards
magazine workplace surveillance webpages • Risks
338 • 12 January 2008
Unite secures pay for victimised TNT rep
Giant courier company TNT has been forced
to continue paying a Unite member who was victimised for his union activity
and fired after being injured at work. After repeated objections to
his election as a shop steward, the company sacked Dave Reeves before
Christmas, claiming that an accident in which he sustained shoulder
and back injuries, and for which he had not claimed any compensation,
was a fake.
news release • Risks
338 • 12 January 2008
threatens to sack trade union steward seriously hurt at work
UNISON slams a heartless employer
who gave union rep a final written warning after he was badly injured
doing his job.
Hazards news, 5 October 2005
Hopping mad union attacks kangaroo courts Trade union members donned convict outfits on 2 March 2005 and chained
themselves together outside Tower Hamlets town hall after council bosses
put two union safety activists before kangaroo courts. The
union says that John Gray, who is the branchs joint health and
safety officer, was targeted the day after serving a Union Safety
Inspection Notice on workplace stress on Tower Hamlets CEO Christine
Tower Hamlets UNISON
news release and Hands
off our union background
document Hazards news, 2 March 2005
Hazards victimisation news archive