GMB calls for executives to investigate proactively all those denied work by the company because of blacklisting and compensate them

Tim Lezard

blacklist-banner_tolpuddleCampaigners have accused one of the UK’s biggest construction firms of issuing a “half-hearted PR apology” over blacklisting.

Following a protest outside the AGM of the company – Skanska – yesterday, the GMB has called for executives to investigate “proactively” all those who were denied work by the firm as a result of blacklisting and to compensate them.

Unions are stepping up detailed preparations for further high-profile protests targeting company executives and HR managers whom they believe were responsible for blacklisting in the past or who have been implicated in recent cases where trade union reps have allegedly been denied work because of their union activity.

It comes as a House of Commons report in due to be published next week following a 10-month investigation by MPs into blacklisting.

In a statement issued yesterday, Skanska joined other major construction firms such as Sir Robert McAlpine and Balfour Beatty in saying the company would consider compensation claims from individual workers “if they can demonstrate that our actions prejudiced them getting work and they suffered loss as a result.”

However, both Balfour Beatty and Sir Robert McAlpine are also expected to challenge claims for compensation being made in a class action on behalf of scores of workers which is due to come before the High Court in London later this year.

GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said: “This is not a question of whether Skanska blacklisted construction workers and kept people out of employment.

“That has been admitted by them as ‘inexcusable’ behavior.

“It should not be for people who suffered at their hand to pursue Skanska.

“For Skanska to purge their guilt the company has to proactively investigate those they denied employment to, contact them, make an apology to them and compensate them.

“Skanska know who they kept out of work. They can enter into discussions with trade union representatives to ensure they do this properly.

“Half-hearted PR apologies and offers to look into claims will not undo the damage or restore their reputation.”

Skanska UK is one of the few major construction firms which has continued to show strong operating profits and a full order book, despite the recession.

It is involved in major motorway and roads upgrade programmes, such as the M25, the energy sector and residential homes.

The company posted profits of £42m for 2012, on revenue worth £1.17bn.

Official estimates released this morning put the total volume of UK construction industry output in February 2013 at 7.0% lower than in February 2012.

The one apparently optimistic note from the Office for National Statistics points to an increase of 5.5% in construction output between January and February 2013.

However, the ONS says this is based on low volume of output in January. The volume of construction output in January of £6,9000m was the lowest level since January 2010.

UnionNews will have full coverage of the publication on Monday (15 April) of the blacklisting report by the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, including interviews and reaction in The Active Voice podcast.

Follow us on Twitter @UnionNewsUK for updates.

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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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