Payouts For Blacklisted Construction Workers
Eight major construction companies are set to compensate potentially thousands of workers whose names were on a secret industry blacklist.
The dramatic development followed years of campaigning by unions after it was discovered that more than 3,200 names, mainly of building workers, were kept on the list drawn up by a shadowy organisation called The Consulting Association (TCA) - later shut down by a regulator.
Workers involved claimed they were denied work, often for merely raising legitimate concerns about health and safety on building sites.
Legal action is being taken on behalf of some of those on the list and while representatives have welcomed the development it only received a cautious welcome.
The eight firms - out of 44 said to have used the list - announced that they were working together to develop a compensation scheme and planned to introduce a code of conduct to prevent a repeat.
The statement said: "Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O'Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI PLC - all apologise for their involvement with TCA and the impact that its database may have had on any individual construction worker.
"The companies have joined together to establish the Construction Workers Compensation Scheme.
"The scheme is intended to make it as simple as possible for any worker with a legitimate claim to access compensation.
"The companies have invited workers' representatives to enter into a period of engagement to ensure that the proposed terms of the scheme are fair and effective. The group is also engaging with other interested parties."
Justin Bowden of the GMB union responded: "Firms admitting they engaged in a terrible abuse of the civil rights of thousands of UK workers is an important step.
"The next step is clean up and pay up. This remains our demand on the construction industry."
But the Blacklist Support Group, which campaigns on the issue, said it was not cracking open the champagne just yet, adding: "So far there are no firm proposals, only a vague promise of compensation for any workers with a 'legitimate claim'.
Unions claimed workers continued to be discriminated against if their names were on the list and demanded an end to such behaviour.
The TUC is planning a national day of action on November 20 over the blacklisting.