The first employment tribunal arising out of the construction industry blacklisting scandal is due to be heard in January, with dozens more set to take place throughout next year.
A case management discussion was held in Manchester on Tuesday last week to consider more than 80 claims for wrongful dismissal in advance of any formal tribunal hearings.
All the claimants had files held on them by the Consulting Association – a secret vetting agency set up by the construction industry. It was shut down in March following an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office.
The workers say they were refused employment or sacked because of the files, which charted their trade union activities. The companies deny any wrongdoing.
The tribunal service set up the extraordinary hearing to handle the large number of cases.
Pre-hearings for all but four cases will be heard in Manchester, probably in April.
For those that make it through that process there will be another wait before full hearings take place, again in Manchester.
The first tribunal, however, is likely to be a claim by Mick Dooley, a London-based construction worker, against Balfour Beatty. This will be heard in the London in January. The firm denies any wrongdoing.
Privately, many of those involved in the campaign expect some cases to be settled out of court, as the claimants consider the long judicial process and the companies the expensive legal action.
One construction company has already agreed a settlement with a blacklisted worker in order to avoid a court appearance.