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Blacklisted workers win compensation and apology from construction companies

Leigh Day settles multi-million pound claim for construction workers

Posted on 02 June 2016

Leigh Day has won £5.4m for 116 GMB members, who brought claims after they were included on a secret blacklist run by the Consulting Association, an organisation set up by the UK’s major construction companies, to target workers associated with trade union activities.

On 11 May 2016 a statement read in open court made clear that the construction companies apologised for their decades-long use of the blacklist and acknowledged that it had caused loss of employment, anxiety and hurt to the feelings of those construction workers on the list.

This followed limited admissions of liability by the companies in October 2015.

Leigh Day - acting for GMB - together with lawyers for Unite, UCATT, and construction workers represented by Guney Clark and Ryan Solicitors, issued claims for unlawful conspiracy, breach of confidence, misuse of private information, breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 and defamation against Carillion plc, Balfour Beatty plc, Costain Limited, Kier Limited, Laing O’Rourke plc, Sir Robert McAlpine Limited, Skanska UK plc, VINCI plc and others in 2013.

The case, listed as one of 2016’s top 20 cases by the Lawyer, was settled in the week before the scheduled 11-week trial date.

The companies had, since the late ‘60’s or early ‘70’s, funded and run a secret vetting scheme which gathered information on individuals allegedly involved in “left wing” or trade union activities.

The database also included unverified personal and employment data ranging from details of membership of political parties to notes on individuals’ alleged personalities, beliefs and family circumstances.

Information was accessed for a fee by member companies as part of their recruitment processes, resulting in the loss of employment opportunities up to 30 years for some claimants.

The impact on individuals and families was, in many cases, deeply harmful, and the individual settlement amounts ranged from £10,000 to £200,000.

Of the 3,213 names that appeared on the blacklist, 771 construction workers brought successful claims through their advisers for a total settlement believed to be around £75m.

In addition to assisting blacklisted construction workers, Leigh Day was the only law firm to advise environmental activists, whose names appeared on a “greenlist”, on their successful claims for compensation.

Michael Newman, the solicitor representing the GMB members, said:

“The Consulting Association was blacklisting on an industrial scale, and shows that the defendant companies had no qualms about ganging up and pooling information on workers, often about trade union activities. The impact on individuals’ lives was all too real, and we must now make sure that such a practice is never allowed to happen again.”

If you suspect that your name may have appeared on the construction industry blacklist you should verify this before pursuing further action.

Please consult the Information Commissioner’s Office website to establish whether your name was held by the Consulting Association.