Blacklisted workers have lobbied major shareholders in Dutch-based multinational over alleged victimisation of union reps in Crossrail project

Tim Lezard

Unite BAM placardBlacklisted workers and supporters have lobbied major shareholders in the Dutch-based multinational construction company Royal BAM (pictured) over its role in alleged victimisation of union reps in the London Crossrail project.

The 90-minute demonstration outside the firm’s AGM was designed to confront investors in one of the Netherlands’ best-known companies with details of what Unite says is systematic discrimination designed to exclude trade unions from Europe’s biggest construction project.

Members of sister unions in the Netherlands also took part in the protest.

Paula Van Dijnen of the FNV Bongenoten union said: “As a royal company, BAM should not be involved in this.

“We have been talking to the people who work for BAM here and they’re quite happy with BAM as an employer. So this story [of blacklisting] makes us wonder what is going on: why does BAM not treat its employees abroad that way?

“Being a ‘royal’ company, they should not behave the way they do. This should stop.”

Shareholders and representatives of the 3 sole institutional investors in Royal BAM ran a good-natured gauntlet of demonstrators, who handed out leaflets describing in Dutch the history of blacklisting in the UK and spelling out Unite’s concerns about operations at Crossrail.

A number of shareholders said they would raise questions with the company’s board during the AGM itself.

Unite officials also personally delivered a letter from the union’s general secretary Len McCluskey to the head office in Amsterdam of the government-owned bank ING, which is the largest single major investor in BAM. It calls on BAM executives to begin talks with Unite to try to end what it says is the blacklisting of workers and union reps.

The construction firm’s UK subsidiary, BAM Nutttal is part of the joint-venture consortium building the £16bn Crossrail system.

Unite has warned of an escalating programme of high-profile protests targeting other companies in the consortium – notably Ferrovial and Kier – if executives continue to refuse to address Unite’s concerns.

It is seeking re-instatement of a group of nearly 30 workers who were dismissed from a Crossrail project in September 2012, recognition of Unite and greater access by union officials to sites on the rail scheme, as well as the dismissal of senior HR managers who campaigners say have proven links with unlawful blacklisting activities in the past.

Another of the Dutch protesters outside the BAM meeting, Bob Wester – who has been involved in organising health workers in the FVN union – said: “These big corporations, they are globalising and we should globalise our solidarity as well.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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