Eight major contractors launch blacklist compensation scheme without consulting representatives of workers affected by blacklist


The new industry compensation scheme for victims of blacklisting was launched by eight major contractors without consultation with representatives of those affected, Building has learnt.

Last week Sir Robert McAlpine, Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Skanska and Vinci announced plans for a Construction Workers Compensation Scheme for victims of blacklisting, which will be developed on behalf of the firms by John Taylor, the former chief executive of mediation body Acas.

All eight contractors are part of an ongoing High Court compensation claim brought by Guney Clark & Ryan on behalf of workers after primary defendant Sir Robert McAlpine named the seven others as co-defendants in August as part of its legal defence.

The new compensation scheme, which comes close to five years after the discovery of the 3,213-name blacklist database held by the Consulting Association (TCA), is intended for those whose names are on the TCA database and the eight companies now intend to negotiate with representatives of the blacklisted workers to determine the appropriate level of compensation for each individual.

However, the scheme - understood to have been drawn up over several months by the contactors and their lawyers - caught those campaigning for blacklisted workers by surprise with the three unions involved in the dispute, the GMB, Unite and Ucatt, given just a few hours’ notice of the announcement.

As Building went to press on Wednesday (16 October), the organisation for blacklisted workers, the Blacklist Support Group (BLSG), said neither it nor its solicitor Guney Clark & Ryan had heard anything from those backing the scheme, six days on from its launch.

Secretary of the BLSG, Dave Smith, said the group welcomed the scheme but confirmed that the group intends to continue with its High Court claim. “They still haven’t contacted us. My email address is everywhere and the world and his wife know my phone number because I put it on press releases,” he said.

Justin Bowden, national officer at the GMB union, said it was “bizarre” that the BLSG hadn’t already been contacted, while Unite’s deputy general secretary Gail Cartmail said no solution was possible “without the voice of the blacklisted workers”.

The BLSG, Unite and the GMB are all calling for the scheme to include the offer of construction industry jobs to those affected, as well as financial compensation. “To really show contrition, firms should open their doors to blacklisted workers and where necessary offer upskilling to give them a job…commensurate with their qualifications,” Cartmail said.

A spokesperson for the compensation scheme said: “We will be engaging with a number of stakeholders and workers’ representatives over the coming weeks, including the Blacklist Supporters Group.”

The spokesperson declined to give further details about the scheme or what level of compensation could be offered.

When contacted by Building this week, John Taylor declined to comment.

Two other major firms named as co-defendants by Sir Robert McAlpine in the High Court - Bam and Amec - are not part of the scheme.

An Amec spokesperson said the firm was “in discussions with the scheme’s representatives to better understand the proposal”, while a Bam spokesperson said: “We’re awaiting details of the scheme, like everyone else.”

James Wates, chairman of the UK Contractors Group UKCG), who has previously urged the industry to act over construction blacklisting, welcomed the scheme, but said it had been drawn up without UKCG’s involvement.