Thursday, 19 May 2016

THE NEW BLACKLISTING CLAIMS

Preliminary hearings for the new claims will be heard in the coming months.

These new legal claims would not have been possible without the help of Maria Ludkin and Justin Bowden at the GMB and Michael Newman at Leigh Day, who have been there for me when needed.

In contrast, Unite and Ucatt are refusing to help. They should be ashamed of themselves.

End The Blacklisting - 10 Minute Version

I am the whistle-blower who exposed the secret blacklisting of 3,213 workers by over 40 of the UK's leading construction companies from 1993 to 2009.

Rob Evans best sums this up in this Guardian article from 2009.

I've created this page to help raise the money needed to fund the legal help required for the next stage of my new blacklisting/whistle-blowing claims (the preliminary hearings), which are due to be heard between June and September 2016.

It's a 5 - 10 minute read and is a real life account of how the corporate rich and powerful work together to suppress whistle-blowers.

Keeping whistle-blowers  down spreads the fear and prevents others from coming forward.

There are far too many similar stories to mine, in which whistle-blowers are isolated, ill treated and forced out.

This has to stop if we want a fair, honest and just society.

Background

I was employed in senior human resources positions within the construction industry from 1993 to 2005, including:

National Labour Manager at Carillion
Business Improvement Director at Emcor Drake & Scull
Regional Production & HR Manager at Haden Young

As a result, I gained direct experience of how the blacklisting operated.

Balfour Beatty Cover Up

In 2005, while at Haden Young (a Balfour Beatty subsidiary), I made various disclosures under the whistleblowing procedure to their Directors about their use of the blacklist and widespread financial fraud relating to their labour costs controls.

These were dismissed, which led me to subsequently raise them with Balfour Beatty's Group HR Director, Paul Raby and the Company Secretary, Chris Pearson. Raby was subsequently named by Ian Kerr as a main contact with the Consulting Association (the company set up and funded by the construction companies to run the blacklisting) in his evidence to the select committee inquiry in 2012).

They too dismissed my claims, which left me isolated, alone and unable to return to Haden Young. I had been signed off sick by my doctor with 'work related stress' at this time, and Raby and Pearson's inaction left me with no other option than to resign.

I was also unaware at the time that Balfour Beatty's Trevor Watchman was the current Consulting Association Chairman. Raby and Pearson would most certainly have known this.

Ten years on and I'm now vindicated.

Balfour Beatty and their subsidiaries, Haden Young and Balfour Kilpatrick (now merged as Balfour Beatty Engineering Services) were found to be prolific blacklisters following the raid on the Consulting Association in 2009, and have recently reported a series of substantial profit warnings/losses of around £500 million, relating to poor costs controls.

Raby however is still employed as Balfour Beatty's HR Director.

I could not understand how a person with such complicity in all this could still be employed after all this time until it was explained to me by a BBC researcher.

Her explanation was simple. "He knows where all the bodies are buried".

Exposing the Blacklisting

In March 2006, I created a website to help publicise the blacklisting. This was the first time the existence of the blacklist and a description of how it operated were made public. I made contact with a number of blacklisted workers and helped them with their claims to the employment tribunal.

Trade Union Cover Up

I also provided my blacklisting evidence to senior trade union officials at Amicus/Unite in 2005 and the then General Secretary, Derek Simpson in 2006, who buried this to protect the millions they were receiving in union subscriptions via a deal with the construction companies at the time.  You can learn all about this from this Radio 4 documentary in 2013 (from 9:00 to 15:00).

Derek Simpson subsequently retired from Unite in 2011 with a £510,659 retirement package.

Not only had I been let down by my employer and their parent company, I had now also been let down by my union, who did not get involved in taking any legal action on the blacklisting until six years later in 2012.

Carillion

In August 2006 I started work as a HR Business Partner at my previous employer, Carillion plc. After about six weeks, I met Liz Keates, who was later exposed as a prolific Consulting Association user and source of information on many many blacklist files. The next day I was told that my contract had been terminated with immediate effect, with no reason given.

My Tribunal

In November 2006 I took Haden Young to an employment tribunal. It was me against the unlimited financial and legal resources of Balfour Beatty. They lied, I lost, and they were able to continue their blacklisting.

The Labour Government

In January 2007 I met with a senior official from the DTI under the Labour Government and presented him with my blacklisting evidence. They also failed to take any action and the blacklisting continued. This was reported in this BBC report.

I also wrote to many senior Labour politicians at the time, but none of them did anything.

My Blacklist File

As a result of my ongoing campaign to expose the blacklisting, I too was placed on the blacklist sometime between January and April 2007.

My blacklist file entries include details of an employment tribunal in Manchester (where I appeared as a witness for the successful claimants), the judgment, and coverage from the Morning Star.

The evidence I gave in that employment tribunal was directly responsible for the Guardian’s investigation, which in turn led to the Information Commissioner's investigation (in which I assisted), and the raid on the Consulting Association in 2009.

Had it not also been for the efforts of the following:

Steve Acheson - electrician
Graham Bowker - electrician
Tony Jones - electrician
Rob Evans - journalist
Phil Chamberlain - journalist
David Clancy at the ICO
Liam Dunne & Sean Curran at Guney, Clark & Ryan

the blacklisting would most certainly still be the Construction Industry's dirty little secret.

My New Website

I continued to campaign about the blacklisting and published many articles and much new evidence on my new blacklisting website from 2009 to 2016. I also gave evidence to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee for their Blacklisting Inquiry in November 2012.

It's been a long hard journey.

The High Court Claims

Ten years on around 771 of the 3,213 blacklisted workers have now received approximately £30 million in compensation from eight of the construction companies involved (Balfour Beatty Group Limited, Carillion plc, Costain Group plc, Kier Group plc, Laing O’Rourke plc, Sir Robert McAlpine Limited, Skanska UK plc, Vinci plc).

The companies settled the matter a few days before a High Court trial was to begin on 9 May 2016. They had previously spent tens of millions on lawyers to resist the claims for years in a bid to break the resolve of the claimants.

This £30 million will also get passed down to the other thirty or so Consulting Association members in part 20 claims, which could average less than a million for each of the forty companies.

This is buttons to the likes of Balfour Beatty, who enjoy an annual turnover of around £14 billion.

The Personal Effect

My efforts to expose the blacklisting have had major consequences. I lost my career, and my relationships with my long-term girlfriend and my son and daughter. I also recently lost my home.

I turned down an offer of £20,000 from Balfour Beatty in 2006 (which included a gagging clause) and then had to borrow an additional £20,000 (adding and extra £1,500 a year interest to my mortgage) to hire a barrister to represent me at my tribunal (which at least enabled me to get the blacklisting evidence into the public domain).

I also had to pay around £40,000 in credit card interest between 2007 to 2015 on the £15,000 debt accumulated while I was unemployed back in 2006/2007.

I have also now been unemployed for the last 18 months, after making hundreds of applications for work.

The New Blacklisting Regulations

As a result of my disclosures and the subsequent raid on the Consulting Association in 2009, the Labour Government brought in new Blacklisting Regulations in 2010.

These also relate to job applications made via recruitment agencies, which is essential, as the companies take advantage of this additional wall of protection when it comes to their recruitment practices.

I am certain that blacklisting did continue beyond the raid on the Consulting Association in 2009 and is no longer a secret database held in a secret location.

Recruitment agencies have also built up their own records on blacklisted workers, evidence of which is available on my website.

Blacklisting by these companies and their recruitment agency suppliers has evolved and will continue to evolve unless serious attention is given to eradicating it forever.

The High Court settlement will not achieve this.

The New Blacklisting Legal Claims

I currently have over fifty legal claims accepted by the employment tribunal with thirty four respondents (including Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Laing O'Rourke, Kier and their recruitment agency suppliers) for breach of the new blacklisting regulations and other whistleblowing legislation.

Rob Evans best sums this up in this Guardian article from April this year.

I am certain that this is an opportunity to prove that blacklisting is current and widespread in the UK construction industry, but Unite have again refused to help following a recent approach.

I have received some legal assistance, but the window to prove contemporary blacklisting will pass if I don’t now get the urgent financial support and help I need to take these claims forward.

There does however have to be a real willingness to do this from all the trade unions, politicians and blacklisted workers involved.

Only 771 of the 3,213 blacklisted workers were fortunate enough to be represented in the High Court claim, and as mentioned, they have recently received in the region of £50 million in a settlement agreement.

I am now therefore appealing to them, their trade unions and any other interested parties to make a donation to help fund the legal assistance required to ensure these new blacklisting claims are upheld.

How Will The Money Be Used?

Previous donations have already ensured that the claims were correctly drafted and presented to the employment tribunal, but further funds are now needed to ensure they are correctly presented at the preliminary hearings.

These will take place between June and September 2016, so it's vital that further funds are raised as soon as possible.

Please however do contact me if you would like me to explain further about how the donations will be used.

The Future

On a positive note, my relationships with my girlfriend and daughter are reconciled, but I lost them both for many years that I will never get back. We are working on my son.

I still however have to find a way to return to work.

Please Donate

Thank you for reading this appeal.

Blacklisting is a covert abhorrent practice that prevents certain people (with a social conscience who have stood up to management and raised legitimate concerns about health & safety, fraud, corruption, etc) from working in this country.

Please do not leave without making a small donation to help me stop this via My Crowd Fund Page

If you want to donate anonymously,  I will never disclose your identity.

Please also do get in touch if you can help in any other way.

If you cannot afford to donate at this time,  please share as far and wide as you can.
 

But Please Donate
 

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