An electrician sacked in a clear case of blacklisting after raising health and safety concerns has been reinstated in a stunning victory for union campaigning.
Unite member Frank Morris was dismissed last September from the Crossrail project. Unite and the Blacklist Support Group (BSG) said he was targeted because of his trade union activity and safety whistleblowing. A massive campaign for his reinstatement followed. Unite and members of the grassroots BSG followed firms involved in BFK consortium undertaking the Crossrail contract across the UK and on to Holland, France, Spain, Canada and the USA.
Frank’s case was also featured in the BBC One Panorama TV documentary: Blacklist Britain. The Scottish Affairs Select Committee called for Vince Cable to launch a formal investigation into whether workers on the project had been blacklisted, which led to the business secretary referring the issue to the Information Commissioner.
Commenting after agreement was reached this week between BFK and Unite, Dave Smith, secretary of the Blacklist Support Group (BSG) said: “We are no longer prepared to sit back when our best activists are victimised and blacklisted. We have been calling for an industrial solution to end the blacklist and Unite has delivered the goods.”
He added: “The reinstatement of Frank Morris is a kick in the teeth for the blacklisting firms and a turning point in industrial relations in the construction industry.”
TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said the climbdown by the Crossrail contractors was “great news.” He added: “Trade unionists everywhere will be delighted that Mr Morris has been re-instated. No-one should be punished for raising concerns about the health and safety of their colleagues and it is great that he is now back in post.”
But he said that “the government must carry out a proper investigation and strengthen the regulations. Blacklisting is a shameful practice that has no place in a modern economy. It causes misery for those on the blacklist and puts lives at risk.”
BSG’s Dave Smith said the Crossrail dispute was “totemic.”
“It was not just about Frank Morris. It was about the future direction of trade unionism in the building industry. Such blatant blacklisting was a declaration of war by the big contractors against all unions. If they thought we didn’t have the stomach or the troops for a fight – they were wrong.
“For 12 months Frank Morris has stood outside Crossrail. He has suffered a year of unemployment, financial hardships and physical attacks. But Frank never gave up. The rank and file never gave up. Unite never gave up.”
He said the labour movement is no longer prepared to sit back while its best activists are victimised and blacklisted.
“We have been calling for an industrial solution to end the blacklist and Unite has delivered the goods… The reinstatement of Frank Morris is a kick in the teeth for the blacklisting firms and a turning point in industrial relations in the construction industry.
“This is a historic union victory. And Frank Morris is a working class hero. Raise a glass to celebrate – the rest of the trade union movement, please take note.”