Written judgement from Employment Tribunal, just released, pays tribute to ‘careful and frank’ evidence from blacklisted construction worker Dave Smith (pictured, right)

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In a damning written legal judgement, the construction giant Carillion has been sharply condemned for blacklisting a construction worker who raised concerns about safety on their building projects.

Employment judge, Anthony Snelson criticised the lack of legal protection for Dave Smith (pictured, right, with members of his legal team), an engineer who took Carillion to an employment tribunal after he discovered his name was on an unlawfully-held blacklist.

Carillion admitted that two of its subsidiaries – Carillion (JM) Limited and Schal International Management Limited – had used the services of the now-defunct Consulting Association and that its managers supplied damaging and false information to the blacklist about Mr. Smith because he had raised concerns about safety when he was an accredited UCATT safety rep.

The Consulting Association was closed down and fined for breaches of data protection legislation in 2009 for holding records on thousands of union activists, safety reps and others which were used by major industry employers to prevent those named in the blacklist from finding work on building sites.

Dave Smith lost his Employment Tribunal in January because he was not employed directly but via an employment agency.

But now, in a damning full judgement just released and seen by UnionNews, the tribunal chair explained why the board had to disallow Mr Smith’s claim:

“We reached our conclusion with considerable reluctance.”

“It seems to us that he has suffered a genuine injustice and we greatly regret that the law provides him with no remedy.

“We hope that he can take some comfort from the fact that the wrongdoing of which he complains has been exposed and punished and legislation passed designed to protect others from the misfortunes which he has experienced.”

Documents disclosed under court order by the Information Commissioner’s Office show that Dave Smith’s 36-page blacklist file contained detailed personal information, with entries relating to occasions when he had raised legitimate health and safety concerns about asbestos and unsanitary toilet facilities.

Much of the information on the blacklist file – which the Tribunal judgement describes as ‘sensitive’ and ‘assembled over a number of years’ – was wildly inaccurate and lawyers believe it appeared to have been used to smear Dave Smith’s reputation.

The judgement says the Consulting Association ‘received substantial renumeration’ – estimated at a minimum of £20,000 – for providing evidence to one construction company alone, John Mowlem, for whom Dave Smith worked in the late-1990s.

Unable to obtain work because he had been blacklisted, Dave Smith was forced to leave the construction industry in 2001 and went on to qualify as a teacher in further education.

The blacklist file was shared amongst the 44 largest construction firms in the UK and resulted in repeated dismissals and periods of unemployment. The Consulting Association was shut down after a raid by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

It found files on more than 3,200 workers.

Dave Smith said: “The written judgement says that I have suffered a great injustice at the hands of big business.

“It is not just me, but thousands of other workers who have suffered a grave injustice. The decision sums up by saying that, as an agency worker, I have no protection under UK law. In that case, we need to change the law.

“That’s why we are going to fight this all the way – we will appeal it to Strasbourg, if necessary.”

Lawyers are currently preparing an appeal against the Employment Tribunal’s decision.


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