Contractor is the first to face action in an employment tribunal after last year’s discovery of a blacklist

CB&I has become the first contractor to face action in the wake of last year’s construction trade union blacklist, with an employment tribunal ordering the firm to pay a union member nearly £20,000 in damages after he was unlawfully refused employment.

On 10 November, Ashford Employment Tribunal ruled that Unite member Phil Willis had been unlawfully refused a job by CB&I because he is a member of a trade union, a prominent activist and blacklisted because of this. He was awarded £18,375 in damages.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) raided The Consulting Association last March and found a list of more than 3,000 workers in the construction industry.

It was discovered that a practice was operating whereby up to 40 firms in the industry were buying information on workers and blacklisting trade unionists.

CB&I was one of 14 firms, including Balfour Beatty, Kier and Shepherd, which were served with enforcement notices following their involvement in the construction blacklist in August.

Following the raid by the ICO in March 2009, the government announced it would introduce legislation to outlaw blacklisting. It became law in April 2010

Tom Hardacre, Unite’s national officer for construction said: “It is the first successful case against a major construction company but it will not be the last.

“The union is currently providing legal support to a number of workers who believe they have been blacklisted. Too many construction workers have suffered victimisation at the hands of unscrupulous employers.

“Unite intends to use the full force of the law to hold firms to account for systematically ruining people’s livelihoods just because a few brave men were prepared to stand up for the rights of their fellow work colleagues.”