Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Barristers back blacklist class action

A team of top solicitors and barristers has been put together to launch a class action against contractors caught using blacklists to vet workers.

Workers denied starts on site are now being encouraged to come forward and join the legal fight by north London solicitor Guney Clark Ryan.

The firm has already taken advice from barristers and believes it has a strong case to launch a compensation claim on behalf of more than 3,000 workers affected by the blacklist.

Solicitor Sean Curran said: "We are at an advanced stage with this and have engaged a large legal team of three barristers.

"If there is the right amount of people affected who come forward then we will seriously consider acting for them on a class action. I'm not sure about the number, but we are not talking a massive amount of people - we don't need thousands."


Barristers back blacklist class action


The legal firm has been liaising closely with leaders of the Blacklist Support Group, which is campaigning for justice for blacklist victims.

Curran said: "The support group is doing a great job of keeping the issue in the spotlight and getting questions raised in Parliament.

"We believe people have lost out financially because of the blacklist and that's not fair."

The costs of any successful claim are expected to be covered by indemnity insurance. Construction union Ucatt is also asking blacklist victims to come forward to see if they have a potential claim against contractors who turned them down for work.

The authorities have also decided that all blacklisting tribunal cases will be held in Manchester.

One blacklisted worker said: "This could be a real show trial, with all the building employers caught up in this in the dock."

How much will workers claim?

The value of a class action for compensation could run into millions. One blacklisted builder told CJ how much the campaign has cost him.

He said: "In the years before the blacklisting was really obvious, I was earning around ВЈ30,000 as a qualified engineer. The blacklisting became really vicious for me in 1998-2001 when I was denied a lot of work.

In 1999-2000, I only earned ВЈ12,000 which was during the construction boom for all the Millennium projects. Lots of people were coining it in while my kids were on milk tokens!

By late 2001, I had to leave the industry and got a job education on ВЈ19,000. Wages in the industry went up big time from 2001 to 2008. Friends and family still working in construction were earning 50k-plus during the boom and if I had been able to stay in the industry and carried on a normal career path for an engineer into project management, I would expect to have earned that sort of money as well.

I am currently on ВЈ35,0000 - pretty much what an engineer would have expected to earn in 2001. My claim is therefore 10 years at approx 15kpa so - ВЈ150,000 in total."

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