Tuesday, 15 July 2014

DEAL OR NO DEAL (Updated 18/07/2014)

If you’re a blacklisted worker, who too like myself has spent a considerable amount of time at home, you will most probably have watched this popular game show.

The contestants battle with the dilemma of taking the financial offer presented, against holding out for the potential of more. Those tempting big red boxes glow brightly on the big screen, but that lure has caused many to leave with little or nothing.

I don’t have the statistics, but some take the offer, some get considerably more, and some leave with considerably less or nothing.

I wonder how many like me applied to go on this show in the hope that it would ease the financial burden caused by getting caught up in this scandal.

However, with the launch of the construction workers compensation scheme you are now the contestant. Your blacklist file is your box. So many on the show comment on how different it is sitting in the driving seat, as opposed to sitting on the sidelines, opening the boxes for others. So what should you do?

There is an offer on the table and the question you have to ask yourself is, do I take this or do I hold out for more.

As promised, I hope to be able to help blacklisted workers make that decision by providing some impartial advice from my own experience of this matter. This will most probably take a few days to thrash out, as there are complex issues to consider. So I will start with the subject of time and expand on the other factors over the next few days.

Time

It’s perceived by many that the legal process of exposing the blacklisting started in 2009. It did not.  This started in August 2005 when I started raising my concerns about being blacklisted with my employer, Balfour Beatty subsidiary, Haden Young.

Many legal exchanges took place culminating in my tribunal in November 2006, which I lost. It then took Steve Acheson and myself two more years working to expose this until David Clancy at the ICO picked up on this and raided the offices of the Consulting Association in 2008.

The Labour Goverment (1997 - 2010) and the trade unions did nothing to help us gain any recompense and it was only through the diligent work and commitment from Guney Clark Ryan and subsequently Ian Davidson and the Scottish Affairs Committee in 2012 that we now have at least, some offer of compensation on the table.

So the first thing to consider is, how long is this likely to continue if you hold out for more money? It was revealed in evidence to the select committee yesterday that the Master hearing this in the High Court hopes to have this heard by April 2016. The evidence yesterday also revealed that the companies appear to have little contrition, and appear only to be trying to stretch the legal process to force blacklisted workers to take the settlement on offer now.

A compensation scheme like this should consider all elements of those affected to ensure the scheme is fair and just. I have an extensive understanding of the issues in this matter, being an ex electrician who had worked his way through management to senior positions in the industry, but my requests to become involved in the talks were ignored by Richard Slaven & Co. They were simply not interested in having any real debate of the issues with someone at the heart of the matter. This appears to be confirmed by the evidence given by the trade union representatives to the select committee yesterday, who appear to have received a similarly cold shoulder.

So this looks like it could yet run for years and years, during which, the banker could possibly decide to reduce or even retract his offer as he sometimes does on the game show.

There are many other important factors to consider and as promised, I will try to expand on these over the next few days in a bid to help those affected come to some kind of logical decision.

Three to five times more?

The trade union representatives who gave evidence to the select committee on Monday stated that their lawyers believe that blacklisted workers could receive three to five times more than they would from the compensation scheme under their claims.

I hope to provide impartial information to blacklisted workers to help them understand what they may receive under the compensation scheme in due course, but those workers approaching the trade unions should ask for a clear written explanation of what they could receive based on the information in their blacklist file.

It is my view that as the unions have now made this statement under evidence, that they should now back this up in writing, stating clearly their assessment of what each worker could receive under a successful claim.

I'd therefore recommend that if blacklisted workers are considering a claim via one of the trade unions, that they write to them enclosing their file and asking for a clear assessment of what they would receive under a successful claim. 

I would also recommend that blacklisted workers also read the posts on this website about the trade union's historical involvement in this scandal before considering having them represent them. The posts are easily found via the 'Index' page below.

INDEX 

So to summarize, following this process logically, this is where we're at:

1. Establish what you could receive under the scheme.
2. Establish what you could receive under a claim.
3. Establish the time it would take to complete the claim.

Another factor I failed to mention above is the possibility of an appeal by the construction companies should the blacklisting claims be successful in the High Court. Considering their legal stance for the last nine years, I would say it's highly possible they would appeal, which would drag matters on way beyond the April 2016 target.

The strengths and weaknesses of a claim

Some interesting points came out of the select committee hearing on Wednesday. In this we learned that Richard Slaven & Co could not justify how they came to the compensation figures, apart from some vague references to what Slaven felt a claimant could recover via the courts, based on his 30 years or so experience.

He did however make a very interesting point about the level of cross examination a Claimant would have to undertake, especially in relation to their attempt to mitigate their losses.

I was cross examined over three days at my Tribunal in 2006 and although I was telling the truth the entire time, I still lost my claim. 

Another factor to consider here is the test cases. The Guney Clark Ryan claim is headed by Steve Acheson (& others). I have expressed reservations about Steve's claim on this website under the following post, so you may wish to consider this:

RUINED LIVES? 

Do you really think some of these workers could not find any work for the last fifteen years? 

I recall a conversation with Steve Acheson following his interview with Newsnight in March 2009, which was filmed from what appeared to be a relatively new and nicely furnished conservatory at his home. I remember saying to him that this did not look like the home of someone who had suffered such financial hardship for so long.

And Dave Smith, who until the commencement of legal action was portraying himself as a DJ on his Twitter page. 

DAVE SMITH - DJ

I have no idea if he was paid for such acts, but he will undoubtedly be questioned in great detail about every step he took to mitigate his losses.

So Acheson's "I've only received 16 wage packets in 10 years" and Smith's "My kids were on milk tokens" will come under great scrutiny should this go to trial.

I must stress again that this post is only drafted to help blacklisted workers consider the current offer on the table. You have to establish the following:

1. How much would I get under the compensation scheme?
2. Are the amounts offered under the scheme likely to go up over the next two years or so?
3. How much would I get under a successful claim via Guney Clark Ryan or one of the trade unions?
4. How long will it take to complete such a claim and would this be appealed by the construction companies?
5. How strong are the test cases and how likely are they to succeed?

Next Up: How I can help.

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