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UCATT slams construction worker blacklist compensation launch as 'deeply cynical'

Updated: Blacklisted workers will be offered between £4,000 and £20,000 under a ‘fast track’ Construction Workers Compensation Scheme which has been launched following eight months of talks.

Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci are the contractors behind the scheme to compensate workers who were part of The Consulting Association blacklists in the past.

Claims which fall under a second, ‘full review process’ will be heard by retired High Court judge Sir Colin McKay, independent of the eight contractors. The retired judge has heard high-profile cases in the past including British athlete Dwain Chambers’ appeal to be allowed to compete in the 2008 Olympics.

Sir Colin will review each application and determine compensation up to a maximum of £100,000 for any individual claimant with payment of compensation expected to be completed within three to six months.

The scheme is open and will remain open for two years and will be open to the estates of blacklisted workers who have died.

In the scheme’s ‘rules’, it states that it is “intended to provide an alternative to court litigation” and that workers who attempt to join the scheme will have to drop all other legal cases relating to information “held by The Services Group of the Economic League or any part of it or TCA”.

A fast track option will mean applicants do not need to prove actual loss with compensation set at pre-determined levels from £4,000 up to £20,000.

How the pay-out could work

Details of around 3,214 workers were held on TCA lists. At this stage, it is now known how much is expected to be paid out by contractors through the scheme.

The amount could be as much as £320m at its maximum, or as little as £12.8m if each of the 3,214 workers were to receive the minimum amount on offer.

If 3,214 workers were each paid the median fast track amount, £12,000, in compensation, contractors would be forced to pay £38.6m.

If they were paid the maximum fast track amount they would be liable for £64.3m.

If 10 per cent of the workers received the maximum £100,000 pay-out, with the rest receiving the median amount on offer through the fast track process, contractors would be forced to pay £66.8m.

The contractors issued a statement which 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 as a result.

“To demonstrate their commitment to ensuring that such activity remains firmly in the past, the companies intend to sign up to the voluntary code of conduct that is being developed by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development to ensure full transparency in pre-employment vetting processes.”

But unions slammed the move as ‘cynical’ ahead of a High Court action set to commence next week.

UCATT general secretary Steve Murphy said: “This is a deeply cynical attempt by the blacklisting companies to try to prevent workers, who have had their lives ruined, getting justice.”

UCATT said no agreement had been made prior to the scheme being launched.

Mr Murphy added: “Blacklisting companies have ignored MPs and ignored blacklisted workers in launching this scheme. This is simply a cynical gimmick before the High Court case begins next week.”

Blacklist campaigner Dave Smith slammed the move as a “PR stunt” on Twitter this morning.

Further compensation scheme details

Fast track applicants will not need to prove loss of earnings and can receive their compensation payment within two weeks.

The scheme will cover the cost of independent legal advice to help applicants who have determined their names were held on TCA records to decide which claim route to pursue.

Contractors will also cover “reasonable legal costs accrued to date” of any applicant who already has a claim in the courts and would like to withdraw to join the scheme.

The scheme is being run by Broadspire, an independent administration specialist, which does not have access to TCA records.

The scheme also allows for refresher skills training where necessary for applicants to “provide no impediment to future employment”.

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