Blacklisting case highlights dangerous loophole

A High Court judge had accepted a UCATT safety rep blacklisted for his safety activities was treated unjustly, but has no legal redress because he was an agency employee.

Dave Smith, a founder member of the Blacklist Support Group, was repeatedly dismissed and refused work after his name appeared on The Consulting Association (TCA) blacklist. A large file held by the organisation itemises concerns raised by the safety rep about asbestos, poor toilet facilities and contaminated waste on London and Essex building sites controlled by Carillion companies.

The original employment tribunal case rejected his claim because he was an agency worker and not directly employed by Carillion. This was upheld by an Employment Appeal Tribunal.

In a ruling issued on 17 January 2014, High Court judge Mrs Justice Slade DBE said that UK employment law does not protect agency workers. The judge did however identify human rights violations and expressed concern that Smith, the secretary of the Blacklist Support Group, had “suffered an injustice from blacklisting”.

Mowlem, the construction firm taken over by Carillion that ran the sites, was a contributor to The Consulting Association.

Dave Smith said he planned to appeal. “Being a union member is not against the law. Raising concerns about asbestos is not against the law. But despite mountains of documentary evidence proving that construction firms were systematically blacklisting union members who questioned safety standards, it seems that big business are above the law.”

He added: “Blacklisting is a violation of human rights. We intend to fight this all the way to Europe until we achieve justice. My heroic legal team are already preparing our appeal.”