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‘Blacklisted’ Construction Workers Settle

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

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More than 400 construction workers and union members who were blacklisted and denied work on building projects have settled an ongoing High Court case involving major UK builders.

Settlement terms were not disclosed, but union officials and reports say other blacklisted workers have previously settled for damages ranging from £25,000 (about $36,659) to £200,000 ($293,292).

blacklist
©iStock.com / Lambros Kazan

The case centers around a database that included defamatory information against more than 3,000 workers.

The case isn’t over, however. Another group of about 90 workers has declined to settle, electing to move forward with trial, set to begin May 9, The Guardian reports.

Nearly 40 construction firms are defendants in the case, which was first filed in 2014. Defendants include Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI.

Shining a Light on Blacklist

The blacklisting came to light in 2009 after the Information Commissioner’s Office seized a database of 3,213 construction workers reportedly used by construction companies to vet new recruits and keep out union, safety and environmental activists, according to the GMB, a general trade union in the U.K.

Many of the workers named said they were denied jobs as a result of being included in the list. The construction companies, however, contest the effect that the list had on the included individuals.

The list had been compiled by a “clandestine organization” called the Consulting Association, operated by 66-year-old Ian Kerr, according to reports.

Scandal Details

The database contained personal information about the individuals named, including descriptions, families and relationships.

Undercover observations of union meetings and other sensitive intelligence that is believed to have been supplied from either a police source or other security records was also contained in the files, The Guardian has reported.

worker
©iStock.com / shih-wei

The blacklisted workers say they were turned away from building projects because of the information included in the list.

Things like "poor timekeeper," "will cause trouble," or "do not touch!" were reportedly noted on the blacklist cards.

In October 2015, only 1,724 workers were aware they were on the list, according to union groups.

An Apology

At that time, several of the construction companies openly acknowledged that the system was unlawful and made a public apology, union officials reported, noting that they accepted the apology on behalf of their clients.

The workers who settled Friday (April 29) have agreed to a joint statement that will be read in court as part of the settlement, GMB reports.

   

Tagged categories: Construction; Contractors; Laws and litigation; Lawsuits; Subcontractors; Unions; Workers

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