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Builders face court action over blacklisting claims

September 2012

Blacklisted UK construction industry workers have launched a high court claim against the builder of the Olympic Stadium, Sir Robert McAlpine, for conspiring with other firms over three decades to prevent them from working.
 
It is alleged that the company was involved in an unlawful conspiracy to amass the details of thousands of people, used to prevent them from earning a living in their trade.
 
The claim has been brought by 86 of the 3,200 workers on the files of the Consulting Association, a covert organisation which, it is alleged, decided whether workers were suitable for employment based on the damaging information they collected on workers regarded as left-wing or troublesome. Workers appeared on the list if they were considered to be political activists, shop stewards or health and safety representatives.
 
Up to 44 big names in the construction industry paid Consulting Association to let them know if potential employees belonged to trade unions, had made questionable relationships or friendships, or held strong political views. Firms would send details of potential employees to Consulting Association, which cross-referenced their details on its database, before letting confirming the person’s suitability.
 
The claimants say they suffered years of unemployment because of their union activities or for raising concerns about safety on building sites. Human rights charity Liberty is pushing for the privacy watchdog to take action. It is threatening to take information commissioner Sir Christopher Graham to court to force him to investigate the case.
 
Liberty’s legal officer Corrina Ferguson said: “If we cannot persuade the commissioner to discharge his public duty, we will consider seeking assistance from the courts.”
 
Consulting Association was closed down by the Information Commission in 2009 and Ian Kerr, who ran the industry blacklist, was prosecuted and fined £5,000.
 
 Workers are being forced to pay for their own personal protective equipment (PPE) or for replacement equipment if their original PPE becomes damaged, claims the Trades Union Council (TUC). The TUC’s survey found that 11.6% of 2,684 tradesmen were forced to pay for PPE. It is illegal in the UK for an employer to charge for safety equipment and the law requires that PPE provided to employees is in working order and good repair.



Consulting Association | UK & NI Ireland | Corruption

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