Construction workers whose names appeared on a secret industry blacklist have won millions in compensation.
The Unite union has reached a settlement with several construction companies which will see 256 workers sharing more than £10 million in compensation.
Trade union recognition
On 6 May, the GMB and Ucatt unions also reached a settlement against eight construction companies on behalf of their members.
This totalled £5.4 million plus costs, and some members could receive between £25,000 and £200,000. However, the GMB estimates that total compensation for blacklisting could reach around £75 million across almost 800 claimants.
The companies involved in this case were Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Keir, Lang O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska and Vinci.
In October 2015, a number of construction companies issued an unreserved apology in a submission to the High Court, where they accepted that their vetting information system “infringed workers’ rights to confidentiality, privacy, reputation and latterly data protection”.
Reacting to the latest settlement, Dave Smith, secretary of the Blacklist Support Group, said: “Despite all of the denials and attempts to cover up their secret conspiracy, the largest multinationals in the construction sector have been forced to pay out millions in compensation.
“Make no mistake, the High Court action is a historic victory for the trade union movement against the vicious face of free market capitalism.”
The blacklisted construction workers were identified in 2009 when the Information Commissioner’s office raided an organisation called The Consulting Association.
Some of the information held on workers included details of their personal relationships, or inflammatory language such as “will cause trouble”, “Irish ex-army”, “ex-shop steward”.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “The sums to be paid out go a considerable way to acknowledge the hurt, suffering and loss of income our members and their families have been through over many years.
“The wheels of justice may turn slowly but, like Hillsborough, eventually justice is done and is seen to be done.”
The companies involved have agreed to issue guidance to site managers to ensure blacklisting does not occur again at a local level.