Frank success for amazing blacklisting campaign!

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.”

Campaigners call for MPs to investigate NRB blacklist in the North Sea after Super Puma tragedy

The Blacklist Support Group (BSG) has called on the Scottish Affairs Select Committee  to widen the remit of its investigation into blacklisting and look into the NRB system in the North Sea.

NRB stands for ‘Not Required Back’ is often added to a worker’s file by an oil rig manager if the individual has raised concerns about safety issues or attempts to recruit co-workers to the a trade union. Concerns have been heightened since the Super Puma tragedy on 23 August that claimed the lives of four offshore workers.

BSG says “it is widely known that the vast majority of oil rig workers have been unhappy with that particular helicopter for many years but getting anyone to talk publicly has been almost impossible. Both RMT and UNITE unions have criticised the Super Puma and have argued that NRB creates a culture of fear making workers reluctant to make any public criticism for fear that their livelihoods will be ruined.”

BSG – the grassroots campaign that has spearheaded the campaign to expose blacklisting in the construction industry , leading to the  Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigation – now wants the committee of MPs to widen its remit.

It says the covert blacklisting organisation The Consulting Association kept blacklist files on some offshore union activists. Professor Charles Woolfson was added to the blacklist for carrying out research into safety in the North Sea after the Piper Alpha disaster.

BSG spokesperson Brian Higgins said: “NRB in the North Sea is a blacklist – plain and simple. A blacklist that targets union activists and workers conscientious enough to raise safety concerns.

“Whenever workers are worried about losing their jobs if they complain about safety, that is a recipe for a tragedy. The Select Committee has helped to expose the secret blacklist in construction. Now it should shine a light into the same process in the North Sea.”