The Crossrail project could face industrial action over the firing of a well-regarded union safety activist. The looming dispute centres around Birmingham electrician Martin Overy, a former Unite safety rep who was dismissed last week only five hours after signing his contract with the electrical contractor Site Operative Solutions Limited (SOS) at Paddington station.
Overy features on the notorious Consulting Association blacklist and in 2016 was awarded damages in the major blacklisting trial at the High Court which saw eight construction giants agree a massive compensation payout. However, the skilled electrician reports that he has struggled to find and stay in employment.
Paddington station is under the control of the Swedish multinational Skanska, one of the defendants in the High Court litigation. It has publicly apologised for its role in the blacklisting scandal.
But the union-supported Blacklist Support Group (BSG) says the company has since been accused repeatedly of involvement in “contemporary ongoing blacklisting after FOI requests highlighted emails that showed union members were being kept under surveillance.”
BSG says the Crossrail project has been dogged by claims of blacklisting. A parliamentary select committee was told that Frank Morris, a UNITE shop steward, was dismissed from the project after his name appeared in a list of ‘troublemakers’.
Roy Bentham, the BSG joint secretary and a Unite executive council member commented: “In an industry with such an appalling fatality record, workers who are prepared to raise concerns about safety should be valued but instead the treatment of Martin Overy seems a blatant case of blacklisting.
“Both Crossrail and Skanska have got form on blacklisting and we’re not going to sit back and let this happen again. If Martin isn’t reinstated, rank and file industrial action is unstoppable.”