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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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News: Blacklisted construction workers lodge claim against Sir Robert McAlpine


The campaign by blacklisted construction workers has stepped up a gear, after a High Court claim was lodged against Sir Robert McAlpine which has been branded the worst offender.

The legal action follows an official complaint lodged earlier this month with the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development by the Blacklist Support Group against five of its members. These comprise:
  • Gerry Harvey, HR director at Balfour Beatty Engineering Services
  • Elaine Gallagher, HR manager at Balfour Beatty Engineering Services
  • Liz Keates, head of HR at Carillion Health
  • John Edwards, manager at Carillion
  • David Cochrane, former head of HR at Sir Robert McAlpine.
The BSG attests that the five were clearly in breach of five sections of the CIPD’s code by allegedly using blacklists to veto construction workers from being employed.
According to trade magazine The Construction Index, the campaigning group also claims that all five named parties “actively participated in The Consulting Association conspiracy that blacklisted trade union members in the construction industry. They allegedly either attended meetings or covertly supplied personal data on trade union members to the secret blacklist which was used to systematically deny work to 3200 individuals.”
Last week, meanwhile, solicitors, Guney Clark & Ryan, lodged a claim on behalf of 86 claimants for ‘Tort of unlawful conspiracy’ at the High Court. The claimants, who are all BSG members, are targeting Sir Robert McAlpine because they consider the company to have the worst blacklisting record.
The conspiracy charge means that Sir Robert McAlpine could also be deemed responsible for the actions of its 40-plus contractors, which include Carillion, Balfour Beatty and Skanska.
It is believed that larger claims could be in the region of £300,000 for loss of earnings and hurt to feelings, while the minimum award under new blacklisting regulations introduced in 2010 is £5,000. The regulations do not retrospectively cover The Consulting Association victims, however.
But the BSG expects the average claim to be around £20,000, which would value the current cases put before the Court to be in excess of £17 million. Because this amounts to only the first wave among a possible 3,200 previously blacklisted claimants, total payouts could exceed £600 million, however.
The blacklisted workers are being represented in the High Court by Sir Hugh Tomlinson QC, barrister to the stars in the News of the World phone hacking cases.
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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett

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