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Unite day of action against blacklisting
Hundreds of construction workers took part in the national day of action against blacklisting on 6 December called by Unite the Union. Protests took place across the country, including lobbies of parliaments in Westminster and Edinburgh.
Workers are determined to show that blacklisting still exists despite the tremendous victory 19 months ago when eight building companies paid an estimated £75 million in compensation to blacklisted workers. One of the companies is Skanska and London workers and supporters kicked off the day with a protest outside their HQ in the City of London, which then moved into their foyer!
As Skanska managers started to panic, phoning the police, Dave Smith from the Blacklist Support Group explained that Unite has discovered evidence that points to current systematic blacklisting of workers for the crime of being trade unionists or even just pressing for safe working practices.
Rob Williams, chair of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN), brought solidarity: "Six years ago, the magnificent struggle by construction workers that defeated the 'Besna contract' that would have cut wages by 35% has given workers confidence to fight and brought a new generation into activity."
Being on the blacklist has meant workers being met with significant hardship when trying to find work.
It has "destroyed people's livelihoods", said Unite members protesting at Balfour Beatty's construction site at the University of Sussex. Local students joined the protest in solidarity with the affected workers.
The Consulting Association, which carried out the blacklisting, has a longstanding history with files being kept for over 50 years, and is supported by major construction companies such as Balfour Beatty and Sir Robert McAlpine.
Unite is calling for a full public inquiry into blacklisting, new laws to make blacklisting a criminal offence, and public procurement rules to prevent blacklisting companies from bidding for public sector contracts.
Connor Rosoman, University of Sussex Socialist Students
"End the blacklist, jail the criminals" rang the chant of one construction worker taking part in Unite's Leeds protest.
Socialist Party members and NSSN supporters joined Unite members on a highly visible protest, with leaflets about the campaign been eagerly snapped up by commuters coming out of the nearby train station.
Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party
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