GMB Union targeting 63 HR bosses in protest tour over blacklisting

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GMB will hold 10 protest demonstrations in the first leg of a national ‘Crocodile Tears Tour’ to try to shame 63 HR managers in the construction industry named as blacklisters who they say have yet to come clean and apologise for their actions.

The tour will start in Darlington on Tuesday 21 October with a person in a crocodile suit accompanied by union members with flags and banners and slogans ‘Nuremberg defence on blacklisting won’t wash’ and ‘Blacklisters come clean’.

This comes as law firm Leigh Day resume action in the High Court in London seeking compensation for 122 GMB members blacklisted by Carillion and other construction employers. The claims were served on 27th November 2013. GMB’s claims were joined with a further 449 claims by other unions and parties at a High Court Hearing in July 2014.

Talks between GMB and lawyers representing construction employers (Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI PLC) on a compensation scheme for 3,213 blacklisted workers broke down in June over the amount of money being put into the scheme by the employers.

Blacklisting came to light when in 2009 the ICO seized a Consulting Association database of 3,213 construction workers and environmental activists used by 44 companies to vet new recruits and keep out of employment trade union and health and safety activists.

So far 1,724 out of the 3,213 on the list know they are on blacklist. 467 were identified by themselves on by their unions. 570 cases are covered by claims in the High Court. ICO contacted direct a further 1,257 and of these 776 has now been sent a copy of their files. That leaves 1,489 still to trace.

The HR bosses in the GMB’s sights for the first leg of the ‘Crocodile Tears Tour’ are:

  • Darlington – 21 October Lynne Day, Personnel Director, Cleveland Bridge
  • Leeds – 22 October Valerie Bennison, HR for Head Office Directorates and SCS at Child Maintenance Group
  • Wolverhampton 23th October Liz Keates of Carillion
  • Sandy Bedfordshire 28 October Paul McCreath, HR Director, Kier Group and Kathy Almansoor, Group Employee Relations Manager, Kier Group
  • Glasgow 29 October Gerry Harvey, Human Resources Development Director at Balfour Beatty Engineering Services
  • Aberdeen 30th October Kevin Gorman, Vice President Human Resources, Harland Group
  • Reading University Tuesday 3 November for lecturer in HR Shelia Knight,  EMCOR
  • London Wednesday 4th November – Paul Raby, Group HR Director, Balfour Beatty
  • West Midlands on Monday, 10 November 2014 details to be confirmed
  • Cheshire Tuesday 11 November – Arnold Nestler, Human Resources Services Director, AMEC

Maria Ludkin, GMB National Officer for Legal and Corporate Affairs, said “GMB is looking forward to tomorrow’s hearing, which will be a key opportunity for the master to hear for himself, the numerous applications from the construction companies designed to try and delay proceedings, increase costs and undermine blacklisted workers pursuit of justice at a full hearing.

“We also note the ICO’s continuing non-compliance with the Court order which would allow the plaintiffs to contact workers who still do not know they were blacklisted. This fits the continuing and disappointing pattern of behaviour from the government regulator, which has only served to benefit the blacklisting companies, by minimising the number of claims against them”.

Justin Bowden, GMB national officer said, ‘They might have thought they had got away scot-free, so shedding crocodile tears now for the systematic blacklisting of 3,213 building workers and environmentalists won’t wash, neither will the Nuremberg Defence of “just following superior orders”.

“These so-called HR Professionals who ran the blacklists for the construction companies knew exactly what they were doing and they need to either apologise, come clean and say what they did, or get used to accounting in public for the damage they did to those they blacklisted and their families, especially with the Public Inquiry Labour has pledged after the next election.

“Just as the construction companies who paid their wages are being called to account in parliament, the courts and the media, every single one of these secret blacklisters will have their role dissected in public.”

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