Monday, 10 September 2012
Blacklsit Update - Hazards Blacklist Blog
The plea and case management hearing at Swansea Crown Court on 6 September 2012 was in relation to the death of scaffolder Russell Samuel. The father of two, aged 40, suffered massive head injuries on 22 January 2008 after falling 62ft from a skyscraper complex which includes the tallest residential building in Wales.
Febrey Limited, Michael Febrey and Carillion Construction Limited are all charged with criminal breaches of safety law in a case brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The union GMB called the demonstration outside the court.
One of the demonstrators was dressed as a ‘grim reaper’, complete with scythe. Protesters carried placards bearing the words ‘Carillion blacklisted health and safety representatives says GMB’ and ‘Carillion corporate bullying risks death and injuries on sites.’
GMB national officer Justin Bowden said: “This demonstration is to highlight the terrible toll of death and injury in the construction sector and to underline the importance of the proper enforcement of health and safety laws to prevent this carnage. Employers which kill and maim workers are as guilty of a crime as someone who kills or maims while drink-driving.”
He added that Carillion was part of a “blacklisting conspiracy which deprived workers in the sector of jobs even when they raised concerns about the enforcement of basic health and safety and hygiene standards.”
Justin Bowden and GMB Scotland secretary Harry Donaldson gave evidence to the House of Commons’ Scottish Affairs Committee enquiry on blacklisting on 4 September 2012. The union says only 194 of the 3,213 workers on a construction-industry run blacklist exposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in 2009 know they were targeted three years on.
The situation is an “indictment” of the ICO, the union said, describing the privacy watchdog’s excuses for not contacting blacklisted workers as “so weak as to be a joke.”
Colin Trousdale, a blacklisted electrician and Unite member from Manchester, told a 27 August protest outside Balfour Beatty’s Glasgow HQ that in 2008 he had taken an Employment Tribunal against the firm. He alleged the company’s human resources director, Gerry Harvey (right), had sent a letter to the court asserting “there is no blacklist, we are not blacklisting you, you are paranoid.”
In 2009, after the blacklisting group The Consulting Association was exposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office, the electrician obtained his blacklist file. The Employment Tribunal incident was covering in the file, together with the information supplied by the firm.
Colin Trousdale commented: “Perjury is a crime. Being a union rep is not. We need to see these people in court. We need to see these people in prison.” The website of Balfour Beatty Engineering Services identifies Gerry Harvey as a member of the company’s nine strong ‘executive leadership team.’ The Blacklist Support Group is preparing a submission to the Crown Prosecution Service regarding the alleged perjury.
Labour MP Jim Sheridan has called for construction firms guilty of blacklisting trade unionists to be barred from publicly funded projects. The MP was speaking at a 27 August Blacklist Support Group protest outside the Glasgow HQ of construction giant Balfour Beatty.
The Paisley and Renfrewshire North MP (left) said he would lobby government on the issue. “Any contracts from British taxpayers’ money – don’t give them to criminals like Balfour Beatty who are blacklisting people,” he said.
Mr Sheridan told the demonstration that years ago he had been blacklisted by the Economic League, a predecessor to the covert blacklisting agency The Consulting Association shutdown by the Information Commissioner’s Office, because of his own trade union activities.
“I want to send a message to Balfour Beatty and the big construction firms: it really doesn’t have to be this way,” he said. “It is a long time since the days when trade unions and trade unionists were seen as the enemy within. You don’t have to get into blacklisting. How much profit do they want to make before they stop attacking and victimising people at the workplace?” Mr Sheridan warned: “If you’re gonna keep blacklisting people – then we’re coming after you.”
The protest had been called to expose the role played by Balfour Beatty in The Consulting Association blacklisting scandal. The firm’s human resources director Gerry Harvey came in for particular criticism after it was revealed in parliament recently that he had attended meetings of The Consulting Association.