Socialist Worker

Unite union launches probe into officials’ role in blacklist

Issue No. 2663

Demanding justice after being blacklisted

Demanding justice after being blacklisted (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The unite union has announced the launch of an investigation into possible collusion by union officers in blacklisting. It is expected to begin in September.

A letter written by Andrew Murray, Unite Chief of Staff, explains that the process will investigate documents disclosed during the various court cases over the scandal.

Britain’s largest construction companies operated a blacklist that ruined lives. But in a number of cases the information on workers’ files came from trade union officials.

Unite has said that any official found to have colluded with blacklisters will be subject to disciplinary action.

Roy Bentham is joint secretary of the Blacklist Support Group (BSG) and Unite executive member for construction. He said, “We have been calling for an investigation into possible union collusion in blacklisting for ten years.

“We are therefore very pleased that this is now taking place.

“We do not for one moment think that every union official was conspiring with construction employers against their own members, but it is simply a fact that a number of blacklist files name union officials as the source of information.

“We are not looking for a witch-hunt but this must be fully investigated.

“There is a big battle to be had in the construction industry against companies who put profit before safety and who deny basic employment rights by engaging their workers on bogus self-employed precarious contracts.

“But this dark cloud of possible officer collusion, which has caused so much friction within the construction unions, needs to be removed once and for all.”

A delegation from the BSG has met with senior officials from Unite to clarify a number of issues.

Speaking after the meeting, where the union promised transparency, joint BSG secretary Dave Smith said, “We intend to hold the union to that promise. We will be pointing the lawyers towards evidence we think is relevant, even if that upsets some people.

“We encourage any blacklisted worker who has concerns or evidence of possible union collusion to engage with this investigation, or contact BSG directly. BSG would not be involved in this process unless we thought it was capable of getting to the truth.”

If you have informaiton on the blacklist email [email protected]

ln 1986, then Daily Telegraph publisher Conrad Black hired Max Hastings who, as editor, hired Boris Johnson in 1988. Baron Black says Hastings “is an ill-tempered snob with a short attention span... a coward and a flake”.

Perhaps.

He also says Johnson “was capable, successful and reliable... a pleasant man”.

Black served 37 months for fraud. He was pardoned in May by Donald Trump.


Billionaire paid for abuse witness silence

Jeffery Epstein, the child abusing financier, has been accused of paying £278,000 to possible co-conspirators to stop them testifying against him.

Prosecutors in New York said the money was to “influence” the unnamed people, and was paid in the past year.

They said he had a history of manipulation of witnesses.

Epstein was charged last Monday in New York with two offences including sex trafficking of minors.

He has denied the charges.

He could face up to 45 years in prison. Prosecutors accuse him of sexually exploiting dozens of girls at his homes in Manhattan, and Palm Beach, Florida, between 2002 and 2005. On Friday, Alex Acosta resigned as US Labor Secretary over the 2008 secret plea deal Acosta negotiated for Epstein.

In 2010, Prince Andrew partied with Epstein just weeks after he was released. The financier threw an “intimate dinner” party with the prince and director Woody Allen where the prince was allegedly treated as a “guest of honour”.


The Bookseller magazine reports that David Cameron’s life story—being posh, PR work, shadow education secretary, opposition leader, prime minister, loses referendum—takes up 700 pages.

That’s seven times as long as Animal Farm, also a book with an interest in pigs.


Flat smaller than a car is given approval

A flat smaller than many cars and a warehouse where half the flats would have no external windows are among plans submitted by developers exploiting planning rules.

Landlords are converting offices into flats as small as 13 square metres (140 square feet).

Last year a developer in Purley, south London, had plans to convert part of a ground-floor office into two flats measuring 8.3 square metre (89 square feet) and 9 square metres (97 square feet) approved by Croydon council.

More than 30 of the flats of the smaller size would fit on to a tennis court.

The square metre flat would measure barely two thirds of a typical parking space.

Another developer has submitted plans to convert warehouse space in Barnet, north London, into 107 flats, of which 56 would have no external windows.


New appeal to stop Serco

Some 300 asylum seekers in Glasgow had a brief reprieve this week.

They are fighting eviction notices by their housing provider, the privatising firm Serco.

Refugees in Glasgow fled war - now Serco wants to dump them on the street
Refugees in Glasgow fled war - now Serco wants to dump them on the street
  Read More

The Govan Law Centre won the right to appeal a decision that said Serco had the right to issue eviction notices.

And the Legal Services Agency has won a stay of eviction for five asylum seekers before a full hearing in August.

On top of the evictions, Serco has a track record of allegations of bullying and intimidation of the people it houses.

A report by the Women Asylum Seeker Housing Project (W-ASH) interviewed Serco tenants.

Some nine out of ten of those surveyed said that Serco officers had let themselves into their homes with copied sets of keys.

In some cases they reported finding Serco’s officers going through their paperwork.

Shafiq Mohammed from W-ASH also said how asylum seeker housing “is best described as bargain basement that nobody else wants”.

Robina Qureshi from Positive Action in Housing described how “one refugee surprised a Serco officer looking through her papers and was told, ‘I’m just checking on your legal status.’”


Chernobyl in Cumbria?

Security lapses at Sellafield raise fears of a disaster “worse than Chernobyl” campaigners have warned.

The Cumbrian nuclear waste plant has logged

25 safety breaches in the past two years.

They include radiation leaking from a water pipe, and potentially harmful uranium powder being spilled.

Janine Smith of Cumbrians Opposed To A Radioactive Environment, said, “Just one error could be catastrophic. It could be worse than Chernobyl.”


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