Socialist Worker

Blacklisted construction worker wins at tribunal

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2228

Construction worker Phil Willis won a landmark legal judgement against blacklisting on Wednesday of last week.

The ruling boosts the chances for other blacklisted workers seeking justice in the courts and may open up employers to claims for millions of pounds in damages.

Phil was refused employment as a steel erector with the construction firm CB&I on the Isle of Grain in September 2007.

The Employment Tribunal in Ashford found that the reason for the refusal was because Phil was a member of the Unite union and the company was operating a blacklist.

The successful claim was brought under Section 137 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act.

Employment Judge Bowles was scathing of the company.

The important elements of the judgement are:

The Tribunal found that the Consulting Association was operating a “blacklist” on behalf of major contractors in the building industry.

It also found CB&I was supplying information to the Consulting Association and using the personal sensitive information on the database to blacklist trade unionists.

The Consulting Association database contained personal data on over 3,000 workers. This is the first time a British court has made the judgement that the database was being used as a blacklist.

Phil was awarded £18,375 in damages. Some £2,000 of this was for “aggravated damages” specifically because of the company involvement with the Consulting Association blacklist—aggravated damages are rarely awarded.

The constitution of the Consulting Association identifies representation at meetings by the companies was at director level. This judgement raises the prospect of company directors being brought to court to explain their actions.

Over 40 firms in the industry were buying information on workers and blacklisting trade unionists.

Phil said, “We are beside ourselves with delight. The judgement was absolutely damning against CB&I. It was such a great victory for us and for all those who will eventually follow in our footsteps.”


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Article information

News
Tue 16 Nov 2010, 18:08 GMT
Issue No. 2228
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