Blacklisting came to light when in 2009 the ICO seized a Consulting Association database of 3,213 construction workers and environmental activists used by 44 companies to vet new recruits and keep out of employment trade union and health and safety activists. Talks between GMB and lawyers representing construction employers (Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI PLC) on a compensation scheme for 3,213 blacklisted workers broke down in June over the amount of money being put into the scheme by the employers. Employers have unilaterally launched a cut price scheme GMB estimates will cost less than 2% of the combined profits of the eight construction firms.
So far 1,724 out of the 3,213 on the list know they are on blacklist. 467 were identified by themselves on by their unions. 570 cases are covered by claims in the High Court. ICO contacted direct a further 1,257 and of these 776 has now been sent a copy of their files. That leaves 1,489 still to trace. GMB held 10 protest demonstrations in the first leg of a national “Crocodile Tears” Tour to shame 63 construction industry managers named as blacklisters who have yet to come clean and apologise for their actions. The tour started in Darlington Tuesday 21 October with a person in a crocodile suit accompanied by union members with flags and banners and slogans “Nuremberg defence on blacklisting won’t wash” and “Blacklisters come clean”. In the New Year dates of the second leg of the tour will be announced.
Justin Bowden, GMB national officer said, “The GMB campaign to get justice for blacklisted workers went back to the High Court. In addition, in the New Year the second leg of the “crocodile tears” tour to name and shame managers who organised the blacklist will be announced. These managers might have thought they had got away scot-free, so shedding crocodile tears now for the systematic blacklisting of 3,213 building workers and environmentalists won’t wash, neither will the Nuremberg Defence of “just following superior orders”.
These so-called HR Professionals who ran the blacklists for the construction companies knew exactly what they were doing and they need to either apologise, come clean and say what they did, or get used to accounting in public for the damage they did to those they blacklisted and their families, especially with the Public Inquiry Labour has pledged after the next election. Just as the construction companies who paid their wages are being called to account in parliament, the courts and the media, every single one of these secret blacklisters will have their role dissected in public.”