Activists describe Howard Shiplee’s appointment to HSE board as ‘frightening news for trade unionists’
Anti-blacklisting campaigners have expressed alarm at the appointment to the Health and Safety Executive’s board of a director of one of the construction companies at the centre of the long-running scandal over anti-union surveillance.
(Pictured: GMB general secretary Paul Kenny with campaigners, Tolpuddle Festival, July 2012)
Howard Shiplee is an executive director of Laing O’Rourke. He was appointed to the HSE board earlier this week.
He had previously worked as construction director at the Olympic Delivery Authority.
Although he joined Laing O’Rourke more than two years after the revelations broke of the activities of the now-defunct Consulting Association, activists have described Howard Shiplee’s appointment as ‘frightening news for trade unionists’.
Secretary of the Blacklist Support Group, Dave Smith (pictured, above, centre) said the appointment compounded his dismay at HSE’s failure to “to take any action or even investigate the systematic victimisation and blacklisting of safety reps since the scandal was uncovered in 2009.
“Now the guilty men are making the policy decisions.
“It reminds me of the film Chinatown and makes me feel physically sick to my stomach.”
The appointment comes as the rights group, Liberty, is calling for the watchdog body which first exposed the Consulting Association to open further investigations into those companies which financed the CA’s activities.
It says only a thorough investigation of each of the companies involved – and the threat of possible further legal action – will allay concerns over whether the unlawful practice is continuing.
In an interview for the forthcoming edition of The Active Voice podcast, Liberty’s legal officer Corinna Ferguson told UnionNews: “The Information Commissioner now holds the complete copy, we understand, of the unlawful database.
“But almost no action at all has been taken against the companies who were responsible for this [blacklisting].
“No separate investigations have been carried out to date into these companies’ practices. That’s the first thing – and the very least – that we think the Information Commissioner could do.
“You have to worry that these companies feel immune from legal action because nothing has been done in the past.”
You can hear the full interview with Corinna Ferguson in the next edition of The Active Voice.
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