Socialist Worker

Victory for agency worker over construction blacklist

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2268

One engineer’s legal fight against blacklisting threatens to shake the construction industry.

Dave Smith won the latest stage of his battle against construction giant Carillion in an employment tribunal last week.

Dave was one of more than 3,200 workers whose details were illegally shared among 44 major building firms to prevent union activists gaining work on large construction projects.

This caused him prolonged periods of unemployment before he was finally forced to leave the industry.


Carillion bosses are accused of supplying information about Dave to the Consulting Association, a secret blacklisting organisation, after he became a trade union safety rep in the 1990s.

A number of workers have taken building firms to employment tribunals for discriminating against them because they were blacklisted.

But no firms have yet been held to account for supplying information to the blacklist.

Dave’s case could change this. He is the first worker to argue that the firm caused him “detriment” because of trade union activity by placing information about him onto a blacklist file.

Carillion argued that Dave’s case should be thrown out of court because Dave, as an agency worker, was not protected by the same rights as other employees. But the judge found against them.

A full employment tribunal will take place in January.

A victory for Dave would set a new precedent. It would establish rights for Britain’s 1.6 million agency workers, who are currently deprived of employment law rights.


If the law does not find in Dave’s favour it will be open to challenge under the European Convention on Human Rights—which protects workers’ right to associate in trade unions.

Dave said after the hearing, “Carillion have been caught red handed. The evidence against them is damning.

“Until such time that the multinational blacklisting firms show some kind of corporate responsibility, we will continue to chase them through the courts—all the way to Strasbourg if necessary.”

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Tue 6 Sep 2011, 18:56 BST
Issue No. 2268
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