BLACKLISTED construction workers could receive damages in a move welcomed as a “step in the right direction” by a Wigan councillor.
Labour representatives Coun Lol Hunt and Coun Terry Halliwell spoke out about the “despicable” act of blacklisting at a recent council meeting.
Union Unite this week said it has secured an “unprecedented” admission of guilt from companies, who blacklisted workers because of their union links, following legal action.
Coun Hunt told the Evening Post: “It’s a partial admission and that’s something but we won’t be popping the champagne corks just yet.
“This is just one blacklist and it’s a very difficult thing to prove because it’s done in secret. It’s a despicable act, it targets the workers and it pushes families into poverty as well. There’s a long way to go. It has affected me and colleagues I have worked with.”
Unite said the admission was “ground breaking” and followed from the discovery of a list containing 3,200 workers who were union members, many of whom were denied work as a result of being included.
The ruling could set a precedent for a number of similar legal actions by different unions representing their members.
Unite’s assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Blacklisting is a scandal that has ruined lives and led to hardship and misery for thousands of people.
“The admissions from the blacklisters and the damages for the blacklisted are an important step on the road to justice in righting that wrong.”
Payments will vary, but could be worth up to £250,000 in some cases, according to the union.
Brian Rye, acting general secretary of construction workers’ union UCATT, said: “This is a highly significant step forward in the battle for blacklisting justice.
“We will continue fighting until justice is achieved for all our affected members.”
Last month Wigan Council pledged to shun companies found to have operated a blacklist following a motion backed by Couns Hunt and Halliwell.
Coun Halliwell, cabinet member for service transformation, said: “Measures have been put in place to ensure that this council does not pick tenders or enter into contracts directly or through sub-contractors that are implicated unless they can demonstrate they have taken measures to remedy past damage and prevent further occurrence.”
The motion received backing from the chamber and was approved.