Vince Cable admits blacklisting breaches human rights but intervenes to fight victim in court
Lawyers acting on behalf of Vince Cable have today presented legal documents that for the first time concede that blacklisting of trade unionists is a breach of human rights. The legal documents drawn up by Daniel Stilitz QC relate to the ongoing case of Smith v Carillion. Dave Smith a union activist in the building industry was covertly spied on and blacklisted by the construction multinational as part of the Consulting Association blacklist scandal.
The test case which started in 2009 gained considerable media coverage when Smith lost his Employment Tribunal even though the company admitted that their managers supplied information about him to the illegal blacklist because of his trade union activities as a UCATT safety rep. Smith lost the case because he was an agency worker and therefore not covered by UK employment law, which only protects direct employees. The original tribunal judgement identified that Smith “has suffered a genuine injustice and we greatly regret that the law provides him with no remedy”.
The case is currently at the Court of Appeal stage, where John Hendy QC is arguing that blacklisting breached Article 8 (privacy) & Article 11 (freedom of association) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Human rights are supposed to protect everyone but if UK law cannot protect Smith because he is an agency worker, then the court is being asked to issue a “Declaration of Non-Compatibility” with the ECHR.
The Secretary of State of Business, Innovation and Skills has now intervened in the case and the written submission for the very first time, presents the UK government’s legal position on the human rights issue.
Paragraph 58 reads: “The Secretary of State accepts that the government the Appellant’s [Smith] Article 8 rights were engaged by the conduct of the Respondent. There has been an interference with his right to respect his family life due to covert collection of data on him.
Paragraph 61 reads: “The Secretary of State accepts that the Appellant’s Article 11 rights were engaged by the activities of the Respondent…. but for the issue of his employment status”
This is the UK government admitting that blacklisting of trade unionists is a breach of article 8 and article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the only reason that Smith did not win his case in the Employment Tribunal was because of his employment status. Despite this massive legal admission, the UK government has now intervened in the case in order to fight against Dave Smith and is arguing that the Court should not issue a declaration of non-compatibility.
The hearing will take place on 5th-6th November 2014.
Dave Smith said:
“Blacklisted workers have always known that the illegal blacklisting conspiracy by multinational construction companies was a breach of our human rights. We have waited over 5 years for this to be confirmed but finally the British government has officially admitted it. We feel totally vindicated for the stand we have taken. The fact that the UK government has admitted I was a victim of human rights abuse but is now going to fight against me in court is beyond belief.
The legal challenge is just one part of our ongoing fight for justice. We will not stop until the whole sordid scandal is exposed.
We are in court on the 5th November – expect fireworks!”
Justice My Arse!
XMAS Benefit Party
Blacklist Support Group & Justice for the Shrewsbury 24 Support Group
Saturday 4th December. 7.30pm – till late
Live bands, Films & DJ’s
Rob Family – R&B / rock
Sean Taylor – Blues & more
DJs: Agent Smith & Tony Holding
Invited Guests: Arthur Scargill, Bob Crow, Jerry Swain (UCATT) plus many more
Wood Store Bar & Grill, Carpenters Mews, North Rd, Islington N7 9EF
(5 minutes from Caledonian Road tube)
Contact: Peter – 07584-325615
£10 on the door, £8 in advance, £5 concessions
Spread the word.
In 1972 following a national building workers strike, 24 pickets were charged under an 1875 Conspiracy Act. This was after two prosecution authorities and the police had interviewed 800 witnesses and couldn’t identify any wrong doers. The Home Office demanded they prosecute. The real conspiracy was between the Tory government, building employers and judiciary.
It resulted in 6 Pickets being jailed from 6 months to 3 years. Des Warren, a UCATT member served 3yrs, died later from treatment meted out in jail. Ricky Tomlinson, of Royle Family fame, was jailed for 2yrs. Files relating to the case remain censored for national security reasons. The campaign is calling for the release of all papers, uncensored, and for the convictions to be quashed.
Last year it was revealed that major building employers had blacklisted workers who raised questions of safety and conditions.
For decades some of these workers have been illegally denied work, their families have suffered great hardship. Many couldn’t get work again in the building industry – just like the Shrewsbury lads.
This benefit is to raise funds to fight for justice for these workers.
Please join us for a fantastic night out – enjoy yourselves while showing your support!
Blacklist Support Group
Blacklisting (Motion 7 at TUC Congress 2010)
In March 2009 it was revealed that the Consulting Association was operating a blacklist in the construction industry; over 40 major construction companies were using the blacklist, which contained the names of over 3,000 construction workers.
Congress notes that while construction workers have been worst affected by blacklisting, workers in many other professions have experienced the destructive effects of the blacklist.
Conference further notes that following the revelations about the Consulting Association, the then Labour Government
undertook to introduce legislation to outlaw blacklisting.
Conference welcomes the UCATT-commissioned report Ruined Lives, which developed a detailed critique of why the draft regulations were entirely inadequate.
Congress notes with extreme regret that the Government refused to countenance any strengthening of the regulations,
which are so weak that they will not prevent blacklisting.
Congress calls on the General Council to mount a campaign to ensure that new legislation is introduced to ensure that
the disgusting practice of blacklisting is stamped out once and for all. New legislation should include:
· Blacklisting becoming a specific criminal offence.
· Protection for workers undertaking unofficial industrial action.
· Protection from blacklisting for workers undertaking ‘activities associated with trade unions’ and not the
narrow definition of ‘trade union activities’.
· An automatic right to basic compensation for any blacklisted worker.
· An automatic right for any worker to be informed, should a blacklist be discovered on which their name appears.
Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians