Three electricians in Manchester were picked out, victimised and sacked by the use of the blacklist on May 12th 2006 from the eight year project at Bovis’ Manchester Royal Infirmary site. They are still bravely fighting on to try to get their jobs back and for the right to work. They are also fighting for what should be a basic human right to join a trade union.
They have won industrial tribunal hearings, which found they were unfairly dismissed because of their union activities, but they remain unemployed. There will be a Remedy Hearing to decide what should be done about the blacklisting and sacking of these workers, and the prolonged period of unemployment they have suffered since. Unfortunately Industrial Tribunals, or Remedy Hearings arising out of these, do not have the legal powers to force employers to reinstate workers who have been victimised and sacked, on this occasion by use of the blacklist. Only industrial action by their fellow workers and trade unionists on site can do that!
Free country? Tell that to the blacklisted workers!
These workers have highlighted the existence and use of the blacklist against trade union activists and militants in the construction industry with their brave struggle. They have even forced electrical contractors have to admit there is a blacklist, which is a first. Yet still they remain unemployed
Main lessons learned
The main lesson learned from this struggle is that we need to defeat and counter the insidious use of the blacklist, and sinister denial of the democratic rights it entails, as soon as it is used against a building worker or workers on site. There should be a strike and pickets mounted on that site by their fellow workers and trade unionists, and employers told in no uncertain terms that the strike and picket remain until the victimised and blacklisted worker or workers are reinstated. It is then and only then that employers will think twice before using the blacklist and, if there’s enough industrial action over the issue, stop the vile practice altogether.
In the meantime let’s all support the Manchester sparks. Their union (now UNITE) have let them down badly. They could have put pressure on the firm that sacked them and challenged the blacklist, which also affects many other sparks and building workers.
At TGWU Conference this year a collection took place. Rank and file members were very generous and the sparks were very grateful. They would also like to thank General Secretary Tony Woodley who, we are told, gave £2. Split between the three sparks’ families this might buy three packets of Smarties. By the way Tony Woodley’s salary is around £100,000 per year.
The struggle is ours – the right to work and organise must prevail!
From Building Worker, published by the UK R & F BWC