Miliband calls for blacklisting inquiry

Statement from Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party
20 November 2013

“Trade unionists and other campaigners have worked tirelessly to keep the scandal of blacklisting in the public eye.

“And I want to pay tribute to the work of Ian Davidson and the Scottish Affairs Select Committee who have done so much to expose what has been happening.

“The connection between growth and living standards has been broken.  Rebuilding that link has to be our priority.

“In the last few months Labour has set out a new agenda for Britain – tackling the abuse of zero-hours contracts, building thousands of new homes every year, dealing with low pay through the living wage and strengthening the minimum wage, securing the future of our NHS and addressing the cost of living crisis that affects millions.

“That’s because to make Britain better we have got to win a race to the top, not a race to the bottom.

“Blacklisting is about a race to the bottom: lower standards, insecurity at work, fewer rights and worse conditions.

“My message today is that the government must now end its refusal to act and hold the inquiry into blacklisting that common sense and decency demand.”

TUC calls for a proper inquiry into blacklisting

A rigorous examination of blacklisting cannot be tacked onto a party political inquiry set up to help the Conservative Party bash unions, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady has said. She was speaking after deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said a government review of industrial relations announced last week can be extended to include blacklisting of union activists by employers.

The review’s terms of reference make no explicit reference to blacklisting but both coalition parties said the issue could be addressed since the review will look at “existing legislation to prevent inappropriate or intimidatory actions in trade disputes.”

The government kicked off the review in response to Unite’s highly effective use of ‘leverage’ techniques to get companies to take safety and other union concerns more seriously, making no reference at all to blacklisting at the time. Unite’s smart organising methods, which include demonstrations outside the homes and offices of company directors and targeting shareholders and the wider supply chain, were used to startling effect in the recent Crossrail blacklisting dispute. Electrician Frank Morris was reinstated in September, a year after the union says he was fired for his trade union activity and safety whistleblowing.

Unions say feigning concern about blacklisting when the real objective is a bout of old-fashioned union-bashing is unacceptable. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady told a 20 November union lobby of parliament on blacklisting: “Blacklisting is real. It has ruined thousands of lives. Families are still suffering because a worker joined a union or raised a health and safety issue.

“We need a full inquiry into its scope. It must have the legal power to call witnesses, seize records and put employers on the spot. Companies guilty of blacklisting should be barred from public contracts until they can demonstrate that they understand the basics of human rights and good industrial relations.

“Blacklisting cannot be tacked onto the government inquiry set up purely to devise laws to limit union campaigning. The inquiry is a cheap electoral stunt set up in response to a non-existent problem, a taxpayer-funded initiative devised to generate a union-bashing headline or two for the Conservative election campaign. Everyone knows that we already have the most restrictive laws on unions in any advanced democracy.”

The Blacklist Support Group also rejected the government move. A spokesperson told The Industrial Reporter: “The Tory proposals are nothing more than an anti-union witch hunt masquerading as an inquiry. To equate the blacklist scandal with unites leverage campaign exposes the government’s entire attitude towards organised labour.

“Blacklisting is a human rights conspiracy involving multinational firms and the state. Leverage is perfectly legal protest with an inflatable rat.”

The Guardian reported that Nick Clegg’s remarks suggest the Liberal Democrats are anxious to rebut claims that they have been drawn into a union bashing exercise constructed by the Conservatives. The 20 November TUC-called Day of Action on Blacklisting, which was backed by unions and the Blacklist Support Group, saw hundreds of events and protests organised nationwide.

ACTION UPDATE…. TUC Day of Action on Blacklisting, 20 November

The Blacklist Support Group (BSG) is calling on all supporters, Trades Councils and trade union branches to organise an event in your area for the TUC Day of Action on Blacklisting.The nationwide event will take place on 20 November.

BSG suggests groups should protest outside a building site being run by a blacklisting company or should  target a public body still using blacklisting firms to provide public services. This is an official TUC sponsored Day of Action, so all unions in an area should work together to coordinate action.

Whether it is a protest, a media event or direct action please take pix and post on social media and contact the local press to ensure the story runs everywhere.

Use the hashtags #blacklisting #N20 #BSG

Ideas to maximise the chances of getting media coverage:
Blacklisted T-shirts, banners, placards, PA (play some music not just speakers on a megaphone), hand in a giant oversized protest letter, inflatable rat, it’s just been firework night so make a guy in a suit with a Cullum McAlpine face mask, blacklisted workers have been locked out of work so a big padlock & chain might come in handy. Whatever you do – make it visual.


7:00am – Protest at Laing O’Rourke, Cheesegrater, Leadenhall St, City of London (opposite Lloyds Building)

10:00am – Protest at Laing O’Rourke, Francis Crick Medical Research Centre, Kings Cross (behind the British Library)

1:00pm – TUC protest with MPs & 4 union General Secretaries, College Green, Parliament Sq, Westminster

2:00pm – TUC Lobby of MPs, House of Commons

3:30pm – House of Commons Committee Room 11 – John McDonnell MP chairs BSG meeting speakers: Sean Curran (GCR solicitors for High court claim) & blacklisted workers.

12:00pm – STUC protest outside Holyrood

1:00pm – film show inside Holyrood organised by Neil Findlay MSP

transport from Glasgow via:

12:00 WTUC event – Senedd media briefing room. Speakers include Andy Richards Unite, Nick Blundell UCATT, Martin Hird GMB and Jane Hutt the finance minister.

Anyone wishing to attend contact:

7:15am – Manchester Town Hall protest against NG Bailey – organised by BSG – speakers include blacklisted workers: Graham Bowker, Colin Trousdale, George Tapp

There are also a number of direct action events taking place across the country. Send us the details of your event and we will update this list to maximise a turnout at every protest.


UCATT co-ordinated/promoted 20 November events in:
, Manchester, London, Leeds, Eastern England, Cardiff, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

‘Piss take’ compensation proposals cause walk out

The first talks to take place between blacklisted workers and representatives of the blacklist compensation scheme have ended in acrimony as the delegation from the Blacklist Support Group walked out of the meeting in disgust at what they described as “piss take” proposals.

The Blacklist Support Group delegation, made up exclusively of blacklisted workers, Dave Smith, Steve Kelly and Roy Bentham, met with three representatives of the blacklist compensation scheme: John Taylor, the ex-chief executive of ACAS; Richard Slaven, a partner at Pinsent Mason solicitors; and Daryl Taylor. The meeting at the offices of Pinsent Masons solicitors in the City of London ended in acrimony when the delegation of blacklisted workers walked out following blunt exchanges.

Roy Bentham, blacklisted joiner from Liverpool and UCATT member, said: “These are not proposals designed for genuine negotiations. It is a piss take masquerading as a publicity stunt. We were not prepared to continue with the charade.

“The blacklist compensation scheme press release claims they are making this offer because of their altruistic concerns for blacklisted workers. If the firms have really turned over a new leaf, they can prove it by offering jobs to blacklisted workers on Crossrail and other major construction projects.

“Blacklisting breached our human rights, forced us into years of unemployment and made our families suffer financially. Why is a celebrity whose phone has been hacked, worth so much more than the human rights of a building worker?

“If there was any justice in the world, the directors implicated should be on their knees begging our forgiveness. We will settle for offers of employment, full compensation and a public inquiry into this squalid conspiracy.

“These blacklisting wretches have the brass neck to offer us a thousand pounds in compensation. They can shove their grand, right up their profit margin.”

BLACKLIST SUPPORT GROUP ACTION NOTICE Targeting the blacklisting Big Cheese at the Cheesegrater, London, 20 November

The Blacklist Support Group (BSG) is targeting Laing O’Rourke at the Cheesegrater construction project as part of the TUC Day of Action on blacklisting.

Assemble 7am – Wednesday 20th November Laing O’Rourke
Leadenhall Street
City of London
(Nearest tube: Liverpool Street)

One of the most high profile building sites in the UK is being targeted because Laing O’Rourke and their wholly owned electrical subsidiary Crown House are both proven subscribers to the Consulting Association blacklist.

Laing O’Rourke are a defendant in the High Court claim being brought by Guney Clark & Ryan solicitors on behalf of blacklisted workers and supported by the Blacklist Support Group.

Crown House was one of the major electrical contractors that attempted to cut electricians wage rates by 35 per cent when they pulled out of the JIB national agreement during the failed BESNA fiasco in 2012.

Organise transport – Bring your banners- let’s make this one a major set piece in the battle against the blacklist. Spread the word – splash it all over social media.

This is an official TUC Day of Action on blacklisting – we need to mobilise to make sure the blacklisting firms get the message.

•             Own Up! Clean Up! Pay Up!

•             Jobs for blacklisted workers

•             Fully independent public inquiry

•             No public contracts for blacklisting firms