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Blacklisted trade unionists and construction firms in lawsuit over £55 million pay-out

After construction firms complied files relating to political and employment activities, over 1,100 blacklisted trade unionists acted against Amec Foster Wheeler. The trade unionists won pay-outs totalling £55 million.

The legal dispute included eight firms which had been discovered to unlawfully have complied files on political and employment records. These files when released made it impossible for them to get jobs.

So far eight firms have paid compensation to workers. The firms have also issued an ‘unreserved and sincere apology’ to the workers who were blacklisted. The eight firms are now taking further legal action to force Amec Foster Wheeler to contribute to the compensation bill. The eight firms argue that the blacklisting was organised nationwide across the construction sector.

Amec who argues that they are not culpable, is resisting the legal action. The high court has confirmed that documents have been filed regarding their decision.

A further trial is due to start on June 4th with the eight construction firms facing more compensation claims form other workers who say that they have also been blacklisted.

Under the name of the Consulting Association, over 40 construction firms secretly funded the blacklisting between 1993 and 2009. These firms held a database of workers. Information was pooled between them and included such things as suspected political beliefs, military connections and health and personal relationships.

The database was then made available when workers applied for jobs. It was used to deny work to some that were considered  troublemakers. Candidates were not informed of the reasons they were denied jobs, and several of them suffered long periods of unemployment.

The blacklist came to light ten years ago after being forced to shutdown by the official watchdog and it was then declared to be unlawful. Companies, including Amec, who had used the blacklist amounted to forty-four.

Workers who were blacklisted were able to obtain copies of the files about themselves and began a campaign to find out why they had been barred from some jobs.

Before the trial began in 2016, the eight firms reached out-of-court agreements with the workers. The eight firms have to date paid out almost £35 million as well as covering the legal costs of over £20 million. 1,150 workers have received pay-outs.

Other firms which have been names are Kier, Carillion, Vinci, Skanska UK, Laing O’Rourke and Costain.

The eight firms have now started legal action against a further four firms alleging that all of them should contribute towards the compensation bill. A further three companies have recently settled, including Emcor. There remains an unsolved claim against Amec.

The eight firms have in legal papers accused Amec of wrongful involvement in and use of the blacklist which was kept up-to-date by the Consulting Association.

The legal papers allege that Amec knowingly contributed 9% of all the information provided to the blacklisting files.

The oil services firm Wood Group who purchased Amec Foster Wheeler in 2017 stated that they could not comment on the matter because it is currently before the court. They did point out that all Amec’s construction related businesses were either wound up or sold in 2007.

Due to the ongoing legal case, a spokesperson for the eight firms also declined to comment.

As well as holding files on construction workers, the Consulting Association also held files on environmental and animal rights campaigners.

To date, over 100 campaigners have received compensation because their names were included in the list. Unfortunately, the information commissioner had not been successful in seizing any further files on the campaigners when he shut down the blacklist in 2009.

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