Blacklist Support Group demo, new hospital, Alder Hey, photo Harry Smith

Blacklist Support Group demo, new hospital, Alder Hey, photo Harry Smith   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Blacklist Support Group demonstrates in Liverpool

Report from the Blacklist Support Group

On Saturday 9th November 60 activists demonstrated outside Alder Hey hospital construction project in Liverpool in protest at the continued blacklisting of union activists and the denial of union facilities on the project.

The demonstration was called by the Blacklist Support Group against the anti-union attitude being adopted by the main contractor on the site Laing O’Rourke (LOR) and its wholly owned electrical subsidiary Crown House.

The company has refused to negotiate with construction unions over rates of pay or safety and has even denied union officials access onto site to speak to workers. The construction unions Unite, Ucatt and GMB all had members on the protest.

The protest came only a day after the announcement of the death of a construction worker on the Laing O’Rourke Francis Crick medical research centre project in Kings Cross.

Unite assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail said:

“This fatality is a tragedy and our condolences go out to the bereaved family and friends. This is a harsh reminder of the importance of high standards of health and safety in an industry that is extremely dangerous.

“Trade unions have a role to play in maintaining safe working environments but Laing O’Rourke has bizarrely banned Unite officials from their sites.

“There is no place for anti-trade union behaviour in an industry where we should be working together in the interests of safety.

“We urge Laing O’Rourke and its subsidiary Crown House to give Unite access to the sites to support workers and help make improvements where necessary”.

Laing O’Rourke is one of the eight major contractors who are defendants in the High Court on 29th November for their role in the blacklisting conspiracy in a claim being brought by Guney Clark and Ryan solicitors and is one of the firms that last month announced a scheme to compensate blacklisted workers.

The Blacklist Support Group walked out of the first negotiations with representatives of the blacklist compensation scheme describing the proposals as a “publicity stunt”.

On the TUC Day of Action on blacklisting on 20th November, the Blacklist Support Group has announced that it will be targeting another Laing O’Rourke site, the Cheesegrater in Leadenhall Street in the City of London (possibly the most recognisable building under construction in the UK today).

Steve Acheson, blacklisted electrician and chair of the Blacklist Support Group said:

“Laing O’Rourke may pretend they have turned over a new leaf by their involvement in the compensation scheme but they show their true colours every day by their anti-union actions on building sites across the UK.

“They appear to be pathologically predisposed to victimise workers prepared to stand up for basic rights such as safe conditions or wages.

“Laing O’Rourke, Crown House and the other blacklisting firms have attempted to destroy our working lives and genuine trade unionism in the building industry.

“Until blacklisted workers are able to gain long term employment on major projects, everything else is just window dressing and we will continue to hound these wretches”.

Roy Bentham, blacklisted joiner from Liverpool and spokesperson from the Blacklist Support Group said:

“Our message is simple. Our message is clear. Full compensation which reflects the human rights violations and suffering of blacklisted workers.

“Employment for those workers on major contracts for which they’ve been previously excluded. And lastly a full independent inquiry into this whole tawdry scandal with no stones left unturned whatsoever”.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 11 November 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.