Various large construction companies are to pay compensation to workers they illegally prevented from finding jobs.
Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Laing O Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci Construction will pay out around £75 million to 771 of the people they victimised through putting confidential details into secret vetting documents.
In 2009, a raid by the Information Commissioner's office uncovered a database of 3,123 workers and activists used by 44 companies to vet potential employees and exclude known trade unionists.
Seven years later, these workers have finally won some recognition for the hardships they have undergone as a result of these mercenary practices. The payments vary according to each case. Unite's legal services director, John Beckett, has said that the companies had to be dragged kicking and screaming to make unprecedented admissions of guilt in October last year. The companies have issued a statement saying they wish to draw a line under this matter, yet some of the executives involved still hold top positions.
The unions have called for a public inquiry. Merseyside carpenter Roy Bentham has refused his offer of £35,000, saying, "This grand scale conspiracy needs a big light shining on it to bring full closure. Construction workers should keep fighting for a full disclosure from these companies, and for harsher consequences against those involved in these sordid activities, with the full support of the labour movement."
But the payout and apology issued represent a victory for those who have been fighting construction industry blacklisting for the last seven years, and organisations such as Blacklist Support Group should be congratulated for their work. It goes to show the importance of union solidarity and of keeping up the fight against seemingly untouchable multinational capitalists.