Black Listing and Workers Rights

The workers of Britain, as in other countries of the world, need jobs, education, health, housing, transportation and safe workplaces, decent pay and pensions, looking after when too young, old, infirm or disabled to work; rest, leisure, involvement in and enjoyment of sports and arts, and a healthy environment etc. We need to be able to organise and make decisions, about the manufacturing and infra-structural base, agriculture to feed people, and control over borders, imports, exports and decisions about investments. We also need the ability to defend our country of working people, against those who would seeks to deprive us of what we need. These are some of the basic needs that our visions should be about. There is a need to state these needs, to demand them as rights and to organise to achieve them as a reality.

A blacklisted UCATT safety rep was dismissed several times for organising to achieve a safe work site. The High Court have accepted that this happened and have deemed this to be unjust treatment but said there can be no legal redress because he was an agency worker.

The case is that of engineer Dave Smith who after finding out he was marked for dismissal, went on to be a founder member of the Blacklist Support Group. His name and that of thousands of other construction workers were on the Consulting Association (TCA) blacklist, resulting in a loss of livelihood and the hardship that entails. Files kept by this organisation detailed his attempts to sort out problems of asbestos, poor toilet facilities and contaminated waste on Carillion sites in the South East.

An Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeals Tribunal rejected his claim for compensation because he was not directly employed by Carillion. The High Court has endorsed the position of the lower tribunals, although it agrees Dave was wronged.

Dave Smith stated after the case. “Being a union member is not against the law. Raising concerns about asbestos is not against the law. But despite mountains of documentary evidence proving that construction firms were systematically black-listing union members who questioned safety standards, it seems that big business are above the law.” He went on to argue that black listing was a violation of human rights and said that the fight would be taken to the European Court of Human Rights.

More importantly, for the present is that the fight is accepted, supported and joined by workers in their Trades Unions. We need safe and healthy workplaces and to be able to organise to struggle to improve our working conditions. Also we need to be able to organise to prevent the reversal of gains made by working people.

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