Reporting @ Morning Star, published 11 July 2014
History was in the making yesterday as unions were given the go-ahead to fight together for justice against several construction companies for the alleged blacklisting of thousands of workers.
A coalition of legal heavyweights, including top solicitors Hugh Tomlinson and Matthew Nicklin, were called in by unions to pursue a group litigation order (GLO) after compensation talks broke down.
The GLO was granted on principle under the order of Master Leslie sitting at the High Court.
Legal teams for GMB, Ucatt and Unite confronted the representatives of eight construction firms accused of blacklisting union members since the 1990s.
Over 3,000 people were affected by what the former employers called a “vetting information list.”
“Contrition of what happened to these men would be hoped for,” said John Hendy QC.
Constructions giants including Balfour Beatty, Laing O’Rourke and Skanska will now have to answer to accusations of conspiracy, human rights violations, breach of the Data Protection Act and defamation.
Under the new GLO all affected workers will be allowed to bring their cases forward together at a trial starting in October.
“It’s pretty open and shut about what they were doing — they were blacklisting construction workers,” said Mickey Guyll, who was blacklisted aged just 24 when he was working on the construction of the Docklands Light Railway in London.
Mr Guyll was a health and safety rep, but in 1992 contractors suddenly stopped offering him jobs.
Two years ago his name was found on the files of the Consulting Association — a business set up to manage the blacklist.
Mr Guyll said he hoped the hearing would bring “justice for 3,213 people who were blacklisted just for raising health and safety concerns and looking after their fellow workmates.”
Lawyers for the construction firms claimed that information on workers was held for security purposes only.
“To call it a blacklist is pejorative,” David Cavender QC insisted.