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Construction workers left shocked and disgusted after being blacklisted

CONSTRUCTION workers were left shocked and disgusted after finding out they were blacklisted as part of a settlement of High Court claims against several major construction companies.

The companies, including Sir Robert McAlpine Limited, Balfour Beatty and Laing O’Rourke, today settled claims brought by 53 blacklisted trade unionists whose personal information was held by industry-funded organisations the Economic League and the Consulting Association.

More than £1.9 million in compensation will be shared by the workers, who say they were repeatedly denied employment as a result of their blacklist files, which in some cases described them as “troublemakers” for raising safety concerns.

Reading a unilateral statement on behalf of the claimants in open court in London, Anthony Hudson QC told Mr Justice Kerr that the companies “have admitted that the Economic League and the Consulting Association variously infringed workers’ rights to confidentiality, privacy [and] reputation.”

Statements on behalf of 20 claimants, detailing how their lives were affected by the blacklist were also read out in court.

Elizabeth Jones, whose now deceased husband Berwyn believed he was blacklisted in 1981, said their family were left “unable to save, without heating in the winter, and were forced to ration meals” during his long periods of unemployment in the 1980s and ’90s.

Robert Brown, a carpenter whose blacklist file described him as “a pain in the neck,” said he has “no doubt” he was blacklisted after he argued for health and safety conditions to be improved as a union representative on a site in Birmingham in 1984.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said the settlement “cannot be the end of the story — there has to be a public inquiry into blacklisting.”

He said: “There has to be transparency and there has to be the opportunity for people to tell their stories.”

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