Blacklisted steel erector wins tribunal

Grant Prior 13 years ago
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A major engineering construction contractor has been found guilty by an employment tribunal of blacklisting a prominent trade unionist.

Ashford Employment Tribunal ruled last week that Unite member Phil Willis had been unlawfully refused employment by CB&I because he is a member of a trade union and a prominent activist. He was awarded £18,375 in damages.

In 2007 CB&I were involved in a major engineering and construction project at the Isle of Grain.

Willis submitted an application to CB&I for work as a steel erector on the site but although his application was acknowledged, he was not contacted again.

CB&I were subscribers to blacklisting group The Consulting Association which was exposed during a high-profile raid and court-case last year.

Willis obtained a copy of his intelligence file held by TCA which contained information about his trade union activity.

The government announced it would introduce legislation to outlaw blacklisting which became law in April 2010. Willis brought his claim under different legislation (section 137 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations.(Consolidation) Act 1992) as there was no specific legislation outlawing blacklisting at the time of his claim.

Tom Hardacre, Unite’s national officer for construction, said: “It is the first successful case against a major construction company, but it will not be the last.

“The union is currently providing legal support to a number of workers who believe they have been blacklisted.

“Too many construction workers have suffered victimisation at the hands of unscrupulous employers. Unite intends to use the full force of the law to hold firms to account for systematically ruining people’s livelihoods just because a few brave men were prepared to stand up for the rights of their fellow work colleagues.”

Les Bayliss, Unite assistant general secretary, said: “This is a significant milestone  but we believe the law should go further. Unite will be campaigning to strengthen the law on blacklisting to ensure employers do not even contemplate blacklisting trade union members.”

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