Several of Britain's biggest building firms have agreed to pay £millions in compensation to 420 workers for destroying their careers through the use of an illegal blacklist designed to deny jobs to workers who did things like get involved in trade union activity or complain about safety violations at work.
This settlement follows on from a £5.6 million payout to 71 blacklisted construction industry workers in February 2016.
Another 90 construction workers look set to take their case to court in May rather than accept out-of-court damages. Hopefully this case will go all the way to court so that the appalling facts of the case can be given the full public investigation they deserve.
The companies who made use of the illegal blacklist (including Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McApline, Skanska UK and Vinci) have implicitly admitted their guilt by handing out compensation to many of the victims, however to hear an explicit guilty verdict declared in a court of law would be much more satisfying to the thousands of men who had their careers destroyed and their lives blighted as a result of this blacklist and it's widespread use across the UK construction industry.
The existence of this illegal blacklist has been known about since 2006 when a construction industry manager called Alan Wainwright blew the whistle. Since then, like so many whistleblowers before him, Wainwright has suffered severe repercussions for doing the right thing. It's hardly surprising that an industry that denied work to thousands of workers though a secret illegal blacklist now appears to be denying work to the manager who blew the whistle on these illegal practices.
It is incredible that it has taken ten years for these workers to get the compensation they deserve from the companies that colluded to deny them work. In fact, it's taken so long that the guy who profited from maintaining the illegal list (Ian Kerr) has long since died.
How these companies imagine that there has been a line drawn under the matter when they're facing court proceedings in May is anybody's guess, and I'm pretty sure that no amount of financial compensation would be enough to console the many workers who lost their families as a result of the severe financial stress caused by their inability to find work due to their name being on a secret and illegal construction industry blacklist.
Hopefully the 90 others will hold firm in the face of lucrative out-of-court settlement offers and ensure that the criminal behaviour of these construction companies is fully revealed in the courts.