The Blacklist Support Group - set up to help those people affected by the construction industry blacklist - has released information on a case which it says shows the scandal is still occuring. In a statement the group says:
Enfield based electrician Frank Morris has been sacked from working on the prestigious Media Centre at the Olympics after blowing the whistle on the use of an illegal blacklist on the construction project.
Frank's dismissal by Daletech Services followed weeks of intimidation and threats of violence by members of senior management after Frank Morris had raised concerns about the dismissal of a co-worker. The co-worker was dismissed from the Olympics Media Centre being built by Skanska and Carillion after his name appeared on a blacklist of trade union members. Frank raised concerns about this illegal practice and was victimised, bullied, threatened with violence by senior management to the point that Frank had to call the police for his own protection before finally being dismissed.
As the support group point out, Skanska and Carillion were two of the major building contractors exposed for using an illegal blacklist of trade union members following a raid on the premsies of the Consulting Association by the government's Information Commissioners Office in 2009.
The Consulting Association collated a secret database of trade union members on behalf of 44 multi-national construction firms who funded, supplied information and directed the workings of the blacklist. The Consulting association database was declared illegal following the successful prosecution in 2009. Invoices siezed during the raid show that Skanska alone paid over £28,000 a year to use the blacklist. Skanska have conceded that 30 of their senior managers participated in the Consulting Association operation. There are currently Employment Tribunal cases against Skanska, Carrillion and Daletech because of the blacklisting scandal.
Frank Morris told the Blacklist Support Group: "When I started August 2010 at the Olympic I was overjoyed. I brought into the Olympic dream and proud that I could be part of building of it. I was also guaranteeing myself a reasonable weekly wage in the worst recession since the great depression which was a lifeline to me and my family.
"Late last year, a fellow electrician was dismissed from site, this worker had an impeccable work record; 100% attendance and punctuality, he was earning a productivity bonus which meant he was achieving over and above his daily work target and he had an impeccable disciplinary record. I was in complete shock the project was in mid flow we were all looking at a minimum of at least 6 months work and the contractor we were working for seemed to have plenty of work in the pipeline for 2011.
"Later that same day, I was speaking to my electrical supervisor and asked what was the reason behind the dismissal. The reply was astonishing, he stated he was dismissed because his name has come up on a list that he was a union man and a known troublemaker. My electrical supervisor confirmed this again the following day. The other electrician had previously been a shop steward on another London construction project.
"I passed on this information to the sacked electrician and his trade union, so he could understand the real reason for his dismissal. During the subsequent appeal hearing, the name of the electrical supervisor in question and the conversation I had previously recalled was divulged. That was the end of my Olympic experience.
"I was immediately removed of site and transferred to Belmarsh Prision extension still working for Daletech Services with Skanska this time were the main contractor. I was forced to work in isolation (in contravention of the main contractors health and safety procedures), site management waged a campaign of intimidation and bullying against me. On 16th December 2010, I had to call the police and ask for protection as a senor electrical engineer threatened me with violence; he said was going to follow me off the site and assault me. I tried my best to resolve the issues using the company grievance procedure. For the next 6 weeks, I suffered daily examples of intimidation by site management. If I could of found another job at any time, I would of resigned: the fact was, I could not afford to leave.
"On 14th February 2011, the management told me to attend a disciplinary hearing and I was sacked. I had previously worked on numerous railway projects and was represented at the hearing by Steve Hedley (RMT union official). I was not sacked because of poor workmanship or lateness but because I raised concerns about the use of an illegal blacklist. My union is representing me in an Employment Tribunal claim. I am now unemployed."
Hedley said: "In over 25 years representing workers, I have never seen such a blatant stitch up."
Private Eye ran a shorter version of my story below in the Christmas edition. I've got a follow-up on another case about a death involving the emergency services which the Avon Coroner has yet to hear and that is currently with the Eye.
It was December 23, 2008 at about 6pm and Mark Read, aged 39, was leaving his work’s Christmas party in Bath.
Less than three hours later he was dead.
Read was heading home to his partner and their seven-week-old daughter. At around 7pm he was picked up in Bath by police for being drunk and incapable and taken into custody there. A check at around 8.30pm found he had choked on his own vomit and he was taken to the local hospital. He was pronounced dead an hour later.
The inquest was postponed at least once but was eventually was scheduled for October this year. However a catalogue of staffing problems at the Avon coroner’s office meant it was postponed once more. It is now set for May next year.
The problems at Avon stem from the suspension on full pay of chief coroner Paul Forrest in March 2009 while an investigation into alleged financial and mismanagement issues took place. Forrest, who headed the third largest coroner’s office in the country and was paid around £120,000 a year, was eventually sacked in July this year.
However in September he was reinstated and then immediately suspended on full pay because an error meant he wasn’t given a ten day grace period to challenge his dismissal.
The acting coroner and assistant deputy coroners had been trying to cope but, inevitably, cases have backed-up. According to its own figures, as of October, there were 151 outstanding inquests going as far back as 2005. (The backlog is now down to about 100 through clearing the less complex cases)
It is understood that one member of staff is now on long-term sick leave and another has left due to the situation.
In the meantime the Read family, including a teenage son from a previous relationship, remain in limbo and without any official explanation as to why Mark died.
In a statement issued through their solicitor, Read’s parents, June and Brian from Melksham in Wiltshire, told Private Eye: “The delay in listing the inquest due to the lack of an available coroner has caused a lot of additional distress and upset to my family.
“We are devastated by the loss of our son, who was an extremely hard working and loving person, totally devoted to his family and children.”
The family believe there were a number of failings by officers in Bath which lead to Read’s death. These include: failing to get help or advice from a police doctor once he was detained; not following the force’s own manual on dealing with intoxicated people; placing him on his back in the cell and not the recovery position and not recording his condition properly so other officers knew what to deal with.
The handling of intoxicated prisoners was highlighted in a report by the IPCC issued in December. It looked at 333 deaths in custody in the last ten years and found that drunken detainees were one of the most common groups to die.
It questioned whether police cells were the most appropriate place to detain them and raised concerns about whether officers were following guidelines on safe handling.
Read’s family said: “We believe if Mark had been properly cared for, and in particular if he had not been on his back or if medical assistance has been sought, he would not have died.
“We confirm that a civil action against Avon and Somerset Constabulary is being considered on behalf of Mark’s children.”