Talks between the two sides have now broken down, as reported earlier this month, with the union dismissing the £15m-£20m pot being put forward for the scheme as inadequate, given the scale of the damage caused to the lives of more than 3,000 people and the £1bn+ annual profits that the eight companies collectively achieve, the unions say.
In October 2013 eight blacklisting companies (Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci) announced that they were setting up The Construction Workers Compensation Scheme (TCWCS) to compensate the victims they blacklisted. Pinsents Masons represent the eight blacklisting companies. The unions have been in talks with them on the scheme.
Yesterday TCWCS applied to the High Court for permission to use the illegally collected records of The Consulting Association (TCA) to administer its compensation scheme. The GMB, Ucatt and Unite lodged a challenge in the High Court to block this application, in a bid to stop the employers proceeding unilaterally with the compensation scheme.
Ucatt was outraged at the idea of the construction companies that are guilty of blacklisting being given the current home addresses of their victims. General secretary Steve Murphy said: “The blacklisters have no right to this information. It is the equivalent of a witness in a murder trial having their new identity given to the murderer. If the blacklisting companies get the new addresses there is nothing stopping them starting a new fully updated blacklist.”
GMB national officer Justin Bowden said: “This compensation offer is not an act of contrition but a cheap, underfunded PR stunt. My advice is that the companies should get serious and make proper restitution and close the book on this shameful chapter.”
The court did not make a decision yesterday and has adjourned it to a later date.
TCWCS issued a statement in response, expressing its 'disappointment' at the unions. It said: The union action threatens to deny all those named in TCA records – whether affiliated to a union or not – the opportunity to seek compensation through TCWCS which, once finalised, is designed to be a faster and easier alternative to pursuing their claims in the High Court.
"The unions have known for nine months that the companies intended to launch the scheme and have been widely consulted. In fact, the scheme has been substantially revised to accommodate many of the wishes of the unions. We are therefore extremely disappointed by the action taken by the unions yesterday in their attempt to block the compensation scheme. Without the High Court order, there is a risk that people will be denied the choice between the compensation scheme and the less certain court process.
"The High Court order we are seeking restricts use of the data specifically to the administration of the scheme and will not be used outside of the scheme. The companies behind the scheme have been open and transparent about the need to use this information to administer the scheme and to determine eligibility and entitlement. Approval had already been obtained from the court to use the data to develop the scheme. We remain committed to the scheme and look forward to a positive result at the next hearing."