Carillion blacklisting ET decision
“Agency workers have no legal protection against blacklisting”
Press Release from Blacklist Support Group
21st January 2012
Agency workers have no legal protection against blacklisting by multi-national firms according to a shock decision in the Central London Employment Tribunal today. The court found that Dave Smith (an engineer) had been blacklisted by the respondents Carillion (JM) Limited
and Schal International Limited
(a wholly owned subsidiary of Carillion
) because he raised concerns about asbestos on building sites and because of his trade union activities. The firms actually admitted that their managers had supplied the malicious information to Mr. Smith’s blacklsit file in a signed statement to the court.
David Renton (pro-bono barrister for Mr.Smith) argued that the blacklist was a major breach of the Human Rights Act and therefore the law should be interpreted in such a way as to protect all “workers” including agency workers. However the court found that because Mr. Smith was employed through an employment agency, UK employment law does not protect him (or millions of other agency workers), so on that point alone the multi-national constrcution firms won on this legal technicality.
Mr. Smith said outside the court:
“The blacklisting conspiracy is a deliberate breach of human rights by big business. Human Rights are supposed to apply to everyone but Carillion and their subsidiaries have got away with systematic abuse of power simply because I was an agency worker. If the British justice system does not protect workers rights, then we will be taking our case direct to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg”
A secret blacklist file collated by the Consulting Association was presented as evidence and contained Mr. Smith’s photograph, address, National Insurance number, work history, car registration, union credentials, information about his family and pages of information about times when Mr. Smith had raised concerns about poor toilet facilities or asbestos on building sites. This information was secretly supplied to the blacklist by managers from major building companies. The blacklist file was covertly shared amongst the 44 largest construction firms in the UK and resulted in periods of unemployment.
Despite the result, the evidence that came out in court about including invoices and hundreds of blacklist files is almost certain to become a key element in a larger “class action” style claim being brought to the High Court by 100 blacklisted workers in the next few months with representation by Hugh Tomlinson QC (the barrister representing celebrity clients in the News of the World phone hacking cases).
There is more to this case still. The evidence which has come up shows that spies attended union meetings and gathered information about people outside work.
said in the hearing under oath:
“There is information on the Consulting Association files that I believe could only be supplied by the police or the security services”
He also told the court that the Consulting Association held information on elected politicians, journalists, lawyers and academics.
Dave Clancy is the Head of the Investigations Team at the Information Commissioners Office, the man who led the raid on the Consulting Association premises and discovered the blacklist. He is an ex-police officer.
Labour MP John McDonnell said after hearing these revelations:
“I am calling upon the Government to launch a public inquiry into the full extent and impact on people’s lives of blacklisting. These revelations are truly shocking and warrant a detailed and open, public investigation.”
Mr. Smith was represented by: David Renton (barrister) and Declan Owens (solicitor) on a pro-bono basis via theFree Representation Unit