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UCATT launches new legal action over blacklisting

UCATT has become the latest organisation to start legal proceedings against construction contractors on behalf of members it claims were blacklisted by the firms.

The union announced it is commencing legal proceedings against the following companies: Balfour Beatty, Bam, CB&I, Costain, Carillion, Laing O’Rourke, Lend Lease, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska and Vinci.

The case is on behalf of UCATT members who it says were blacklisted and will be brought on the basis of misuse of private information and breach of confidence due to the personal material contained in their files.

The union has launched the court cases to coincide with the TUC’s anti-blacklisting day of action, taking place today.

A UCATT spokesman could not confirm the number of claimants being represented in the legal action.

It follows the launch of a case by union GMB which in June lodged a claim at the High Court in London against several major contractors, seeking compensation for members it said were blacklisted by the firms.

GMB’s case alleged unlawful conspiracy by Sir Robert McAlpine and Carillion. It also alleged defamation by Balfour Beatty, Kier, Costain and Skanska. It said damage was caused to workers’ reputations by their presence on the blacklist, though it did not allege unlawful conspiracy against these firms.

The case represented the first time a blacklisting case had been taken to the High Court by a trade union.

Construction News reported in 2009 that UCATT was first planning to launch a civil suit against contractors found guilty of vetting employees.

Since then it has launched employment tribunals and a test case in the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of one of its members, alleging that successive governments failed to outlaw blacklisting breached workers’ human rights.

UCATT general secretary Steve Murphy said: “Blacklisting companies wilfully destroyed the lives of ordinary construction workers and acted as though they were above the law. Our legal action will ensure that the victims receive the justice they deserve.”

A third case, brought to the High Court by Guney Clark & Ryan solicitors on behalf of claimants forming part of the Blacklist Support Group, was launched against Sir Robert McAlpine in July 2012.

In August, Sir Robert McAlpine issued legal notices which added nine major contractors as co-defendants in the High Court action.

Eight contractors then launched a compensation scheme for blacklisted workers last month.

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