Campaign news

Blacklist workers occupy employment agency

24th May 2014

Blacklist workers occupy employment agency

Report from Blacklist Support Group

Police were called to the UK head office of the Danish owned employment agency Atlanco Rimec on Friday 23rd May 2014when it was occupied by campaigners from the Blacklist Support Group and members of the UCATT and UNITE trade unions. The employment agency that operates in the UK and Ireland construction industry is centre of a storm after it was exposed on Danish TV that it kept a secret blacklist of workers who joined a union and denied them work. The revelations were made by an ex-manager of the firm in a documentary broadcast on the DR1 TV channel last week.

The Labour MP Ian Davidson, who chaired the Parliamentary Select Committee investigation into blacklisting issued a statement saying:
“What we have seen shows clearly that the use of agency workers is a weak spot in eradicating blacklisting and we therefore recommended that direct employment and transparent recruitment practices should be standard for all public-sector contracts in the construction industry,”

Among the blacklist protesters was Northampton grandfather and blacklisted bricklayer Brian Higgins who has suffered decades of unemployment after his name appeared on the illegal Consulting Association blacklist. Higgins’ 49 page blacklist file is the largest file kept on the covert database and records when he stood up for his fellow workers as a UCATT shop steward and elected convener on building sites in London area during the 1980s and ‘90s.

Higgins, branch secretary of Northampton UCATT, told the occupation:
“Blacklisting of workers for demanding basic human rights such as safe working conditions or unpaid wages is a national disgrace. For decades my family has suffered because of this evil conspiracy and for decades the major construction companies lied about the existence of a blacklist. For from being a thing of the past, we now have evidence from Danish TV that the practice is still going strong among employment agencies. If the government wont do anything to stamp out this disease, then rank and file workers themselves will take direct action to stop it reoccurring.”

The Northampton blacklist protest was part of a national day of action against the umbrella company tax scams and abuses by employment agencies in the building industry. It saw building sites occupied and blockaded in London, Newcastle, Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff hitting projects such as Crossrail and Manchester City training ground.

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