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Saturday 30th
posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

Construction bosses cave in after four years

BLACKLISTING construction firms were handed a bill for £250 million for excluding hundreds of trade unionists from workplaces nationwide yesterday.

In a major industry settlement unions GMB and Ucatt accepted the payout on behalf of almost 300 trade union activists who were systematically targeted by firms Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci.

But last night blacklist victims in Unite said they want the full, sordid details of the blacklisting conspiracy exposed in court — and they will be continuing their action against the companies.

Details of the settlements between GMB and Ucatt are being kept secret for legal reasons.

However the Morning Star can reveal that some individual settlements are in excess of £100,000 — compensating workers who suffered denial of employment for decades.

Blacklist Support Group chairman Steve Acheson (pictured) praised the “hard work and tenacity of rank and file activists that has brought this human rights conspiracy into the political discourse.”

Mr Acheson, himself a blacklisted construction site electrician from Manchester, said: “For more than 40 years, they were blacklisting us with impunity.

“Seven years ago when the files were discovered these firms denied everything and offered us nothing.

“Two years ago, their misnamed compensation scheme offered most people £1,000.

“These wretches have now been forced to pay out millions in compensation, combined with legal bills for four sets of lawyers this will cost them close to a quarter of a billion pounds.

“That’s a big kick in the profit margin.

“What has already been achieved is a massive victory for the trade union movement — but the fight is not over yet.

“Blacklisted workers may have won compensation but this is a long way from justice.”

The blacklisting scandal was exposed in 2009 after government officials raided the offices of blacklisting specialists the Consulting Association.

The raid revealed a database of 3,323 construction workers whose names were sold on to industry bosses.

And they have now agreed settlements for some victims, including costs, after a gruelling four-year campaign by unions and activists.

GMB, Ucatt and their lawyers Guney, Clark and Ryan (GCR) said: “The construction companies have offered financial settlements which all claimants represented by Ucatt, GMB and GCR have now accepted as fair and reasonable.

“The construction companies have also agreed to pay the claimants’ legal costs.”

Unite director of legal services Howard Beckett said: “Unite is continuing to litigate on behalf of those construction workers whose lives were ruined by the ‘blacklisting’ scandal.”

He said Unite is also demanding that the alleged “architect” of the blacklisting conspiracy, construction magnate Callum McAlpine, be brought to account.

Mr Beckett said: “Unite has issued a witness summons for Callum McAlpine, the alleged architect of ‘blacklisting’ and a named defendant, to give evidence at the High Court trial next month.

He has, so far, steadfastly refused to give a statement in response to the serious allegations made against him.