Wednesday, 30 July 2014

CONTEMPORARY BLACKLISTING? - NRL

When I first started this journey nine years ago it was just me, my word and my evidence against the vast majority of the UK construction industry. They accused me of being a liar and a fantasist and lied under oath at my tribunal. They must have also thrown hundreds of thousands of pounds at lawyers in a bid to contain this.

I turned down a £20,000 settlement and had to borrow a further £17,000 to get my blacklisting evidence into the public domain without fear of legal reprisal. I had to live off my credit card whilst off sick and unemployed, a debt which still cripples me monthly, as I'm still only able to pay the minimum amount. And then there's loss of earnings...

My evidence was presented to a regional official of Unite and their then General Secretary, but they buried it and left me alone and isolated with this. The hypocrites are now shouting about this from the rooftops, but they are just as complicit in condoning this back then, leaving this deep underground for years to come.

I mention all this as I think we start that journey again today with this new evidence about the employment agency sector. Tribunals and legal claims have been thrown aside because blacklisted workers were working through third party employment agencies.

So here is my post:

Following the recent suspicions that blacklisting may have moved to the recruitment agencies providing labour to the construction industry, I went back to some information provided by an ex colleague at Carillion, Mike Connolly.

Carillion had their own in house recruitment agency NCS (Postworth Limited) providing over a thousand construction tradesmen to their projects and my role was to set up a mechanical and electrical (M&E) division, which I did successfully. Mike was brought in a few years later to work in the NCS M&E business, but had no knowledge of the CA at the time. Mike has subsequently worked for AMEC and Haden Young (Balfour Beatty Engineering Services) in similar labour recruitment roles.

NRL

In May 2010 Mike provided some information regarding the construction labour agency, NRL. I missed this at the time as it didn't seem that relative with everything else that was going on.

NRL were one of our three main preferred agency labour suppliers during my time at Carillion and have grown to be the fifth largest agency in the construction sector according to their website.

NRL originate from Cumbria and their M&E office in Washington in the North East. They now have offices around the UK, including bases at Grangemouth and Sellafield.

The news section on their websites boasts that their turnover has increased 60% in the first six months of 2014 (against that of 2013), rising from £55 million to around £90 million.

My contact at the time was Gillian Cordner, who is now Gillian Gomersall and a Director of the business (still running the M&E nationally out of the Washington office)

Testimonials

NRL's website also reveals that they have long standing relationships with many large construction companies, with at least three testimonials from senior Directors of companies involved with the CA.

"Phil, Balfour Beatty Engineering Services

We have enjoyed a very close and open relationship since 1990, and I commend NRL as a truly capable and experienced recruitment company able to provide no-nonsense, quality, value-for-money recruitment."

Could this be Phil McGuire, MD at Balfour Beatty Engineering Services until May 2014? Well his Linkedin profile states that he's based in Newcastle.
"Steve, Shepherd Engineering Services

NRL consistently provide high quality and cost-effective labour solutions, frequently within critical timescales. The honesty and integrity of our relationship, as well as their knowledge and experience of the Mechanical and Electrical Industry, has allowed NRL to remain one of our supply chain partners for 19 years."

Could this be Steve Joyce, Regional Director in the north east since 1992? Of course it is.
"Steve, Amec Nuclear UK Ltd
NRL have been providing the radiography service for AMEC for several years at the Sellafield site. I have found them to be reliable, flexible and professional in carrying out their duties in what is sometimes a very tight timescale. I look forward to carrying on this relationship in the future and would recommend them to other companies. "
SSE Contracting

There is also a glowing reference from SSE Contracting and although they were not in any way connected to the CA (as far as I'm aware), they do have a longstanding dispute with Steve Acheson regarding his sacking at Fiddlers Ferry and failed miserably with their High Court claim in 2009 to have his protest removed from outside their Fiddlers Ferry power station in Warrington.
 
"Jeff, SSE Contracting

I recently celebrated 20 years of service with SSE Contracting Limited and I believe it appropriate to mark the occasion with a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to a number of our construction industry partners who have supported our operation.
During my period with SSE Contracting, our team has successfully developed the E & I Business into one of the UK’s leading and most respected companies in that sector. Underpinning our success has been the magnificent support we’ve enjoyed from a number of key companies on our supply chain, one of which is our premier agency labour provider, NRL.
When called upon by our team, NRL’s Washington operation has been able to support us with a service that is both professional and consistent with integrity beyond reproach"
Mike Connolly

In May 2010 Mike informed me that he had worked at NRL and my research indicates that this was very briefly i.e. late 2009 to early 2010.

Mike had access to their database system and stated that this held records on certain individuals, including Steve Acheson, Graham Bowker and Tony Jones, clearly stating under the 'Availability' status:  

"Please Contact Gillian Gomersall".

I've attached screenshots of two Facebook exchanges with Mike from January and May 2010.

NRL 1 - JAN 2010 

NRL 2 - MAY 2010 

Mike talks about this system (Adapt) being phased out, but for the layman, this does not mean they would delete all their records. The worker records are the life blood of their business, so these would have been merged into the new system.

NRL now use a web based system from Safe Computing, which has client portals for their clients to log on to exchange information.

Safe Computing boast that 8 of the top 10 UK recruitment businesses use their system.

SAFE COMPUTING 

SUMMARY

So we have a Director of a major construction recruitment agency with very long standing business relations with and testimonials from companies known to be associated with the CA.

We have a recruitment manager who has worked at Carillion, Amec and Haden Young (Balfour Beatty Engineering Services) and NRL, stating that NRL held database records of known blacklisted workers and that those records state that NRL staff must contact a Director of the business (Gillian Gomersall) when considering certain individuals for employment/placement with their clients.

EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNALS

Further research reveals that NRL have been the respondent to at least one employment tribunal claim and appeal in conjunction with Balfour Beatty Engineering Services.

More information can be found at:

CULLINANE V BBES & NRL

Indeed, Graham Bowker (mentioned above by Mike Connolly) was the subject of a pre-hearing at the Manchester Employment Tribunal with NRL, Balfour Beatty Engineering Services, Carillion, NG Bailey and Beaver Management Services in March 2011. I do not know how this progressed.


So here we are again, with what appears to be the start of the process again. So I'll ask my question again.

Did blacklisting continue via the agency suppliers to the members of the Consulting Association post March 2009?

 

CALLUM TUCKETT EVIDENCE - LAING O'ROURKE

Q: How does a barrister know when someone is lying when giving evidence?

A: Body language...

If you briefly study Callum Tuckett's evidence at 14:54:40, 15:19:20, 15:28:00, 15:48:31, 16:05:57 and 16:06:35, you will see he uses his hands quite freely to express himself.

SELECT COMMITTEE HEARING - 16 JULY 2014 

Now Mr Tuckett didn't get to the top of the construction industry pay chain without picking up a few tips about body language, but if you study him closely around 16:08:57 when Simon Reevell starts questioning him about Roger Robinson, Carillion and NCS you'll see a noticeable change.

Q1: Hands on desk playing with pen, moving to raised hands clasped

In this specific evidence, Mr Tuckett states that Roger Robinson has "now retired from the business, was most recently chief executive of the European hub business, responsible for pretty much half of the business".

It is at the end of this sentence where Mr Tuckett's hands become clasped in the raised position.

Now I don't know if Roger has now retired from the business, but all the press releases state that he was standing down as Chief exec of the European business, but was remaining in a senior role.

Quote Construction News 24 March 2014

"Mr Robinson will remain in the company as “a senior executive with responsibility for a wide range of important relationships and aspects of the business including Laing O’Rourke’s joint venture with Bouygues at Hinkley Point C”, according to a Laing O’Rourke spokesman."

Q2: Hands clasped, face down

In this specific evidence Mr Tuckett states that he was on the same board as Roger from 2010 to 2012, but a simple search on Duedil.com reveals them both to be on the same board of Laing O'Rourke PLC until 14 March 2014.

DUEDIL

I don't intend to go into any further detail breaking down the rest of Mr Tuckett's evidence in this brief exchange with Simon, but his body language continue as:

Q3: Puts one hand on top of another and draws hands close to body
Q4: One hand on top of another close to body
Q5: Hands clasped in front
Q6: Hands clasped in front
Q7: Hands clasped in front

Mr Tuckett's hands return to playing with his pen when Lindsay Roy takes over.

Now you can go and make your own inquiries into what this body language means, but quite simply, clasped hands denotes anxiety and is the act of holding oneself in place to suppress the tension inside.

Body language coach, Nicolas Fradet describes clasped hands as follows:

"Clasped hands with interwoven fingers indicate great anxiety and frustration. That person is thinking, things are going really bad"

Thankfully, being a barrister, Simon knows all this.



Thursday, 24 July 2014

CONTEMPORARY BLACKLISTING?

Did blacklisting continue via the agency suppliers to the members of the Consulting Association post March 2009?

I have today forwarded evidence that this may be the case to David Clancy at the ICO and a member of the select committee.

This is brand new evidence, not previously submitted, considered  or published. It's also not NCS or Atlanco Rimec.

I've informed the ICO that I'll publish this potential evidence a week from today, giving them time to act on this in the meantime should they wish to do so.

Watch this space. I don't publish anything I can't back up, as you know...

Thursday, 17 July 2014

CARILLION - NCS (National Construction Services)

I've previously mentioned Sandy Palmer and Dave Aspinall from Carillion's in house agency NCS (National Construction Services) in my written and verbal evidence to the committee.

They are detailed on CA file 2e here:

CA FILES 

Roger Robinson (mentioned in yesterday's hearing by Simon Reevell) who was a main board Director at Carillion until 2010 was also a main board Director with Callum Tuckett at Laing O'Rourke Plc until March 2014. Roger was also a Director of Carillion's NCS (Postworth Limited) in house labour recruitment business (Source Duedil).

It was Roger who interviewed me for and gave me the position of NCS (M&E) manager within Carillion in 1993.

I did provide the following information to the select committee in March 2013, but it does not appear to have been acted upon.

An internet search reveals Sandy Palmer as Managing Director of a similarly named recruitment business in Telford called NCS - Network Construction Services until 2010. This appears to have been set up around 2002.

A further internet search also reveals Dave Aspinall as a Director of this company from 2005. This is the same Sandy Palmer and Dave Aspinall from Carillion's NCS, although the internet search reveals that Sandy Palmer is registered as Thomas Alexander Luke Palmer. Sandy is his nickname. Here is the search:


So these two key people, both with very long term careers, pensions, etc. suddenly leave their very secure roles at Carillion to work at NCS Network Construction Services.

Considering the evidence already submitted to the select committee about Sandy and Dave's association with the Consulting Association whilst at Carillion, and the recent concerns raised about employment agency Atlanco Rimec, I have written to a member of the committee to highlight this again.

I simply cannot understand how Richard Howson has not been called in for questioning by the select committee, considering his long term stance that Carillion's association with the CA was limited to "a Crown House subsidiary". 

Tarmac/Carillion employees Sandy, Dave, John Ball and Personnel Director, Frank Duggan are all on the files submitted in my evidence to the select committee. 

If FD (at 2b in the CA files above) is not Frank Duggan, then maybe Mr Howson would like to enlighten us as to who this was from within the company. 

It should be noted that there is also a reference to a DW in the same CA file 2b. In addition to Sandy Palmer and Dave Aspinall, there was only one other manager employed at Carillion's NCS at the time I was there.

Dave Whitelaw...




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.

Friday, 11 July 2014

THE HIGH COURT

Over 30 paid lawyers at the High Court taking dirty corporate money to defend complicit construction company directors and managers.

Those named in this scandal may be able to throw unlimited amounts of money at lawyers, whilst continuing to deprive those affected of reasonable compensation, but their children, grandchildren and their children will most certainly one day go on the Internet to learn about their ancestors, and it will all be there in black and white.

The shame of what they did...

Saturday, 5 July 2014

THE COMPENSATION SCHEME

I hope to make an announcement on here very soon on the plans I've been making to help blacklisted workers process their compensation claims.

Please note that this will not be before the select committee hearings next Monday and Wednesday.