BLACKLISTERS “ran up the white flag” at a court hearing yesterday, admitting they had broken the law in keeping a secret database of construction workers.
Over 700 workers represented by trade unions Ucatt, GMB and Unite are suing the construction giants who subscribed to the Consulting Association, an organisation set up to stop trade unionists getting work in the building trade.
Yesterday, the firms admitted that they had infringed workers’ rights to confidentiality, privacy, reputation and data protection.
And lawyers admitted a further claim of defamation lodged by Unite — which means that workers can press for full disclosure even if they settle with bosses.
“These unprecedented admissions from construction firms involved in systemic covert blacklisting wouldn’t have been possible without the resolve of our members and the dedication of Unite’s legal team,” said Unite legal services director Howard Beckett.
“Crucially, Unite members can expect to not only receive personal apologies and offers of redress but also larger payouts because of the admission of defamation (which) allows Unite to continue to seek answers from the firms involved.”
The companies also acknowledged their negative impact upon workers’ personal lives.
But Blacklist Support Group secretary Dave Smith said that “real justice” could only be delivered if blacklisting bosses were banged up — which he acknowledged was highly unlikely under the current legal framework.
“The blacklisting wretches have run up the white flag,” he said.
“They are guilty as sin and this is a desperate attempt to to try and avoid the spectacle of a High Court conspiracy trial.
“Personally, I want to see the directors of this national scandal give evidence under oath about their involvement in this systematic human rights abuse.”
Sir Robert McAlpine, Balfour Beatty, Skanska, Kier and Laing O’Rourke are among the companies implicated.
And Ucatt general secretary Brian Rye hailed yesterday’s hearing as a “highly significant step forward.”
The High Court case is set to continue as the companies were not willing to accept the significant loss of earnings claimed by blacklisting victims.