Socialist Worker

Blacklisted workers take construction firm to High Court

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2314

The campaign for compensation for blacklisted construction workers has stepped up a gear. Some 86 former construction workers have lodged a High Court claim against the Sir Robert McAlpine firm.

The claimants are part of the Blacklist Support Group (BSG). This is a network campaigning on behalf of construction workers illegally blacklisted by major building contractors because of their trade union activities.

The last invoice issued to the firm by the Consulting Association, who ran the blacklist, was for more than £28,000.

A conspiracy charge means that, if found guilty, Sir Robert McAlpine would also be responsible for the actions of 40-plus contractors who systematically blacklisted workers. These include Carillion, Balfour Beatty and Skanska.

The average compensation claim is £20,000. The current cases are valued in excess of £17 million. There are 3,200 blacklisted workers—so building firms could face payouts of more than £600 million in total.

Mick Abbott, a 74 year old ex-scaffolder, is one of those who have lodged the High Court claim. He said, “This nearly ruined my marriage and it meant that my children were on free meals at school.

Rekindled

“My file goes back to 1964 and the last entry says that I rekindled the campaign for justice for the Shrewsbury picketers in 2006. They have been watching me all these years and passing this information around, blighting my life over four decades.”

Steve Kelly is an electrician and spokesperson for the Blacklist Support Group. He said, “I was blacklisted because I was a union member and because I raised issues about safety.

“In 2007, McAlpine sacked me from the Colchester Barracks project after two days for refusing to work on a moving platform without proper training, exactly as we had been instructed in the site induction. The dismissal is recorded on my blacklist file.

“Over the year I suffered severe financial strain. My wages were cut in half. This caused immense stress paying bills and putting food on the table.”


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News
Tue 31 Jul 2012, 16:51 BST
Issue No. 2314
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