Blacklisting law firm fights on, despite new scheme

A law firm representing 100 construction workers who claim they were the victims of blacklisting says it is pressing on with its High Court action over the issue, despite a compensation scheme launched by eight of the companies involved.

Guney Clark & Ryan adds that its dispute is not just with the companies themselves and others but also with unions Unite and UCATT, both of whose officers, according to associate solicitor Liam Dunne, have “questions to answer”.

The eight companies – Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI – say they all apologise for the impact the database held by the now defunct Consulting Association may have had on some workers, and want the Construction Workers Compensation Scheme to “make it as simple as possible for any worker with a legitimate claim to access compensation”.

They refused to reveal any details of how much compensation might be involved, but say they have invited workers’ representatives to “enter into a period of engagement to ensure that the proposed terms of the scheme are fair and effective”.

However Dunne, whose practice has not been contacted by any of the companies involved about the scheme, said his team were still preparing for the next stage of the High Court Action on 29 November.
He said: “We are preparing as if nothing has changed. We broadly welcome the offer of compensation, but the devil will be in the detail. We look forward to speaking to the companies.”

He added that he also wanted to make sure that the scheme was not “just a carve-up that serves the companies’ and the unions’ interests”, because many of his clients felt let down at the way the unions had behaved over the issue.

The eight companies say they have talked to some of the other companies accused of blacklisting. The Unite union said they should now be pressurised to join the scheme.

Assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The fact that only eight of the 44 construction firms involved in blacklisting have committed to action is not good enough. The remaining 36 firms cannot be allowed to shirk their responsibilities to workers who they cruelly blacklisted.”

She added that the eight companies should also look at re-employing and, where necessary, upskilling blacklisted workers. “Many of these workers have spent years out of work as a result of being blacklisted. Employers have a moral duty to give them back the jobs that were wrongly taken away from them,” she added.

UCATT general secretary Steve Murphy said the scheme was a “step forward”. But he added: “There is still a great deal of information we do not yet have including how the scheme will work and who will be eligible. Until we have all the information and it is clear that the scheme is, transparent, open and accessible to all victims of blacklisting we cannot endorse it.”

Neither union would comment on Dunne’s claims about their own officers’ conduct.

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