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UNITE Union Smell A Rat

Union out in protest over the industrial act of ‘blacklisting’

Written by . Published on July 3rd 2013.

UNITE Union Smell A Rat

UNITE union protesters bearing flags, banners, leaflets and a 10ft inflatable rat gathered outside the Local Government Association’s (LGA) annual conference at Manchester Central (formerly G-Mex) this morning, with around 1200 delegates including Business Secretary Vince Cable attending the three day conference.

“We’re saying that BFK should not be given public sector contracts paid for by taxpayers money until this dispute and the blacklisting of employees is stamped out entirely."

Union members gathered in protest at claims that workers across the country have been unfairly ‘blacklisted’ by construction consortium Bam, Ferrovial and Kier (BFK). Protestors are enraged by the consortium’s use of the now disbanded Consulting Association, an indistinct organisation that maintained a database of over 3000 industry workers that may have been active within trade unions or vocally expressed concerns.

Protesters outside Manchester CentralProtesters outside Manchester Central

Unite leader Len McCluskey has launched a national mobilisation campaign against BFK which will include over a thousand protests in the next six months, 350 in the past three weeks alone.

Chris Stiles, Senior Organiser for Unite said, “We’re here in protest at BFK, known blacklisters who are being awarded local contracts handed to them by local governments.”

“We have strong evidence that BFK sacked one of our Shop Stewards, Mr Frank Morris, and a further 28 of his co-workers from the huge Crosslink project in London - just for trade union activity and because Frank had dared to raise safety concerns about dangerous cabling.”

“We’re saying that BFK should not be given public sector contracts paid for by taxpayers money until this dispute and the blacklisting of employees is stamped out entirely – these are companies that are building our schools, our hospitals and our libraries.”

Unite bannersUnite banners

But weren’t The Consulting Association, who formed and controlled the ‘blacklist’ database raided by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and disbanded in 2009?

“Yes they were investigated and shutdown.” Chris continued, “Since then BFK have stated that they regret the use of the list, but as of 2012 there appears to be a new blacklist – and they’re using it.”

“BFK have put £68,000 into outside blacklist businesses in order to get a list of blacklisted workers and deny them work. This is happening all over the country including around 500-600 names across the North West.”

“We want all the local government councillors here to support us in demanding that BFK receive no more local government contracts until the dispute is ended.”

A spokesman from Kier of the BFK consortium said: “The activities of the now disbanded Consulting Association are both historic and regrettable. Kier co-operated fully with the investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in 2009 and no further action was taken against Kier and the firm does not condone any form of blacklisting.”

The rat is being used to symbolise companies 'ratting out' employeesThe rat is being used to symbolise companies 'ratting out' employees

A spokesman for Ferrovial said: ”We have never been accused of blacklisting and have seen no evidence of this on any of our projects. The current Unite campaign concerns one individual previously employed by a sub-contractor to a joint venture in which Ferrovial Agroman is one of three partners. The worker left the project when the work the subcontractor had been contracted to carry out had been completed.”

BFK have certainly rat-tled the cage of the Unite union, let’s hope all sides can rat-ify the issue (sorry).

Follow David Blake on twitter.

More information on the process of blacklsting here.

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