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. It came as the parliamentary committee heard evidence of the extent of the scandal, and MPs were told a complaint of police collusion in the blacklist was to be referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

GMB says its report, published at the union’s congress on 11 June, “pulls back the curtain of secrecy”. The union says its dossier reveals how employers like Carillion have illegally used their power and money to blacklist citizens and to deny them their rights to employment.

The Information Commissioner has confirmed that 224 construction workers from around the UK were victims of blacklisting by Carillion. These names, on the files of the blacklisting body The Consulting Association, were released in the course of an Employment Tribunal earlier this year when Carillion was accused of blacklisting former construction worker Dave Smith.

Blacklisting – illegal corporate bullying endemic, systemic and deep-rooted in Carillion and other companies was released to coincide with a visit to the union’s congress by up to 150 GMB members employed by Carillion at Great Western Hospital in Swindon. GMB said the workers are striking over bullying and harassment and “failure to deal with a cover up, bribery and corruption on this PFI contract.” It says Liz Keates, the senior HR manager investigating allegations at Carillion in Swindon, “was the main manager administering the endemic, systemic and deep rooted blacklisting at Carillion.”

GMB says blacklisting by Carillion was not something isolated or rare. The GMB report estimates that in one financial quarter Carillion checked 2,776 names with The Consulting Association. In the period from October 1999 to April 2004, Carillion checked at least 14,724 names, the report estimates.

Of the 3,213 people on the blacklist, 2,863 are still unaware that their details were held by The Consulting Association, the union warns.

GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said: “This GMB report pulls back the curtain of secrecy to give a glimpse how employers like Carillion have illegally used their power and money to blacklist citizens and to deny them their rights to employment. The report shows that the level of wrong doing and abuse around this blacklisting is the construction industry’s equivalent of phone hacking by newspapers and is equally serious.”

The union leader added: “For far too long, vested interests have sought to ignore these discriminatory activities by Carillion and others. GMB will campaign to expose these activities. GMB will call on politicians to bring social justice to the victims of blacklisting by these companies. Carillion and others should apologise and compensate victims who have fallen foul of their illegal activities.”

Steve Kelly, spokesperson for the Blacklist Support Group, commented: “Blacklisted workers welcome this important report by the GMB which shines a light on the dirty tricks that this multi-national used against workers prepared to stand up for their rights or raise concerns about safety in the building industry. Unfortunately Carillion now seems to be bringing these vile anti-union practices into the NHS and other projects publicly funded.”

He added: “The Blacklist Support Group are proud to have assisted the GMB in the production of this report. We hope that the report will be shared amongst public authorities and in regions where workers have been blacklisted by Carillion, the firm should be removed from any approved contractors list for future publicly funded projects in that area. Labour Councils especially have a role to play in ensuring that their contractors comply with at least basic standards of corporate responsibility; which means not victimising and blacklisting trade union members.”

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