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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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Workers blacklisted by Sellafield-based construction firms in compensation claim

Workers “blacklisted” by construction companies based at Sellafield are part of a multi-million-pound compensation claim.

But the level of compensation is being challenged in the High Court by the unions involved.

Eight firms have admitted using a blacklist historically to sideline workers over their trade union or health and safety or environmental links, including four based at Sellafield during the 1980s.

The Sellafield-based victims are referred to in files that form the basis of the compensation claim as “trouble-makers” with one described as “militant”.

They worked on site from 1983 to 1989 and were members of the GMB union.

Nationally, a total of 3,213 workers – including 27 in Cumbria – are due compensation that could total up to £20m having been blacklisted by one of eight companies: Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci Plc.

Most of the Cumbrian-based claimants were based in Barrow.

The existence of blacklisting in construction emerged in 2009 when a list belonging to The Consulting Association (TCA) was uncovered by the Information Commissioner’s Office. TCA, based in Droitwich, had illegally collated information on thousands of workers, labelling many as disruptive, which was then passed to the construction firms which used it to vet new recruits.

The eight guilty firms have since formed The Construction Workers Compensation Scheme (TCWCS) with a £15-20m pot to be paid out in damages. It includes £4,000 being paid to anyone on the list, rising to £20,000 if they can provide discrimination. In more serious cases, up to £100,000 can be awarded.

GMB, Unite and Ucatt are all involved in the challenge. GMB’s national officer, Justin Bowden, said: “The eight companies between them have a turnover of over £34bn and pre-tax profits of £1.04bn. They can afford to own up, clean up and pay up.”

A spokesperson for TCWCS said: “All eight companies recognise that the activities of TCA were unacceptable and regret their involvement. They are sorry that information was held about individuals and for any hardship suffered.”

The next High Court hearing is in October.

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