Joy and regret at blacklisting settlement

A 2013 demonstration against blacklisting by union Ucatt
A 2013 demonstration against blacklisting by union Ucatt

A St Helens campaigner admitted having mixed feelings after unions and construction firms settled their remaining blacklisting cases.

Ex-bricklayer Terry Brough, from Billinge, says he had hoped the full truth about the illegal practice would emerge in court.

Three leading unions, GMB, Ucatt and GCR, last week settled their outstanding claims against a host of construction firms over workers who were politically active or voicing concerns about health and safety being systematically denied work.

Mr Brough, of Moss Bank, says he is concerned the practice could still be going on in some parts of the industry and says he wanted complete transparency and the publicity that would result from firms guilty of blacklisting being put in the dock.

However, he said many of the people who had been out of work for years due to blacklisting would be relieved at the cases being settled.

Mr Brough, 68, said: “To be honest I wanted it to proceed to court. The last thing these big employers want is the bad publicity from a drawn-out court case.

“I wanted as mmuch bad publicity as possible for these companies and I feel that by settling they have avoided it.

“For me it isn’t over, because as a trade unionist and a socialist wherever I see injustice I want to fight it.

“However, some lads will have jumped at the offer and I’m not knocking that. We’ve all got different circumstances and if they’ve been out of work a long while and have got into debt then it will be a massive help.

“You didn’t have to be Che Guevara to get blacklisted. Talking to the stewards or supporting any kind of action could be enough to put you on the blacklist.”

Mr Brough says construction union Ucatt represented as many as 170 employees in the dispute.

The lawsuits were brought against a host of firms including some of construction’s biggest names including Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Kier, Laing O’Rourke and Sir Robert McAlpine.

Action began after the activities of the notorious Consulting Association, which kept a list of 3,200 workers who were to be prevented from getting jobs due to being seen as potential troublemakers, came to light in February 2009.

The firms have now officially apologised and acknowledged blacklisting is illegal. They have also agreed to pay the claimants’ legal costs and offered everyone represented by the unions an amount which has been accepted as fair and reasonable.

Mr Brough says he got in touch with several St Helens construction workers who believed they were blacklisted but said several possible victims he approached declined to join the legal case.

He said: “I managed to get information on several people living in St Helens who were blacklisted and managed to get in touch with some of them, which was good.

“It was a long time ago but there has been an injustice done to them.”