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Blacklisting payout scheme 'a travesty'

Proposals to compensate blacklisted workers a 'blatant attempt to gag' them

Construction union Ucatt warned yesterday that building firms' proposals to compensate blacklisted workers look like a "blatant attempt to gag" them.

Eight companies - Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O'Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI PLC - last month issued a joint statement apologising for blacklisting.

They agreed to establish a construction workers' compensation scheme.

But documents received by Ucatt show they would impose strict conditions, including forcing blacklisted workers to drop other legal claims.

The scheme will only be open for a year, with payouts beginning at just £1,000.

And only blacklisted workers whose addresses have been identified would be informed of the scheme and all decisions would be made by a High Court judge with no input from the unions or the affected workers.

There is no intention to hold hearings with most cases resolved on paper, Ucatt said.

"The scheme is a complete travesty of justice," said Ucatt general secretary Steve Murphy.

"The companies involved in blacklisting and wrecking the lives of workers for decades are not even prepared to accept liability for their disgusting actions.

"They are trying to buy the silence of workers for as little as £1,000."

A spokeswoman for the scheme said the award levels are part of ongoing discussions with Ucatt, other workers' representatives and stakeholders.

But Ucatt said it has not been involved in any discussions regarding the scheme.

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