Building Firms Set Up Compensation Fund
What would you do if you found out the reason you hadn’t been able to find work was because your name had been secretly blacklisted – and you had no idea why?
This is what happened to more than 3,200 people when it emerged in 2009 that their names had been put on a building industry blacklist compiled by The Consultation Association (TCA). Four-and-a-half years later, eight of the construction companies involved with TCA are putting together a fund for the affected workers to provide them with some kind of compensation.
Construction site managers would secretly gather information about their employees and send it to TCA, so when a different site manager was hiring new workers they could look up the entries pertaining to those potential employees and decided whether or not to hire them.
Some of the names had been added to the list for simply raising genuine concerns about building site health and safety. Others are still baffled as to why they were placed on the blacklist, and trade unions said that these people have all been unable to find work in the construction industry for years, without knowing why.
The eight firms – out of 44 that used TCA’s blacklist – apologised for their involvement and are now launching the Construction Workers Compensation Scheme. Although they said that they could not reveal details of the scheme just yet, the companies are encouraging the other companies involved with TCA to help in the creation of the fund.
Unions are happily backing the compensation scheme, but hope there will be more to it. “It must be a priority to get blacklisted workers back into work,” says Gail Cartmail, Assistant General Secretary and the union Unite. “Unite is calling on contractors to employ and where relevant, support the up-skilling of blacklisted workers.”
She added that employers “have a moral duty to give the blacklisted workers back the jobs that were wrongly taken from them.”
Much of the progress has been made possible with the backing of the Blacklist Support Group, who have campaigned for years for the workers to get some sort of benefit for their mistreatment.
Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna, welcomed the announcement of the scheme, “though it should have been made long ago.”
The workers on the blacklist may not be able to get their time out of work back, but their names have been cleared. They will now be able to work in the construction industry again, and maybe get to rebuilding their lives.