The news comes after most of the companies accountable for blacklisting workers confessed their liability in court last October and admitted to breaching confidence/misuse of private information, breaching the Data Protection Act 1988 and defamation.
So far 71 UCATT members have received payments averaging almost £80,000, to reflect the damage to their reputations and loss of earnings. These are the first blacklisted victims to receive damages but 89 still remain.
Negotiations are ongoing for compensation for these outstanding cases, which will go to trial in May this year if settlement is not agreed. Workers who think they have been a victim of blacklisting must file their claim by 28 February. Eight new claimants have come forward in the last few weeks.
In the High Court in October, defending construction firms Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI, represented by McFarlanes, apologised to workers who suffered adverse consequences because of their inclusion. UCATT is now trying to obtain this apology in a formal letter.
The blacklist was maintained by a company called the Consulting Association, which was retained by the contractors to run checks on construction workers. The Consulting Association kept files on more than 3,200 workers. Most were construction workers, though firefighters, teachers and Royal Mail workers were also included. Some were on the list for reporting unsafe procedures at building sites while others were union activists, for example. The list was discovered in 2009 following an Information Commissioner’s Office raid.
Brian Rye, the union’s acting general secretary, said: “UCATT has been fighting the blacklisting case since the day it was revealed. This initial tranche of compensation is the first significant milestone in the battle to win justice for blacklisted workers. I hope that this compensation will provide some recompense for these members who have suffered appalling treatment at the hands of the blacklisters.”
He added: "We know there are more construction workers out there who had their lives blighted by the evil of blacklisting. Many of these workers will be retired. We’re trying to get the message out, so as many as possible can at least get some satisfaction for the wrong that was done to them."
UCATT is keen to ensure all documentation that is part of the case is kept for thorough examination in the event of a public inquiry. The union says its lawyers are also trying to secure an assurance that, on the unearthing of anymore documents about blacklisted workers or their personal information, the individuals concerned are given access to them before they are destroyed by the blacklisting companies to prevent future exclusions.