Unite the Union have established an independent inquiry into allegations that their trade union officials colluded with the construction industry to blacklist workers.
Unite the Union is an amalgamation of several different unions. The Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) and the Amicus union merged to initially form Unite. Amicus itself was the result of a merger between MSF and AEEU. Unite the Union was later joined by UCATT – the main builders union.
In May 2016, a number of trade unions including Unite the Union, GMB and also construction workers campaigning through the Blacklist Support Group secured a historic settlement in the High Court.
As part of the settlement, workers won pay-outs totalling £75m after they discovered that construction firms had unlawfully compiled confidential files on their political and employment activities, preventing them from securing jobs in the sector.
Construction firms including Sir Robert McAlpine and Balfour Beatty, paid compensation, and issued an “unreserved and sincere” apology, to the blacklisted workers.
Collusion by Trade Union Officials?
During the High Court litigation, documents were disclosed and media reports appeared that suggested that some union officials had been aware of, and may have colluded with the blacklisting of their own members.
In April 2022, Unite the Union established an independent inquiry into allegations of collusion between trade union officials and the construction industry bosses that contributed to the blacklisting of construction workers. In response Unite the Union has instructed a legal team to examine, investigate and to report on whether or not trade union officers within Unite the Union (including those that merged into the union, primarily TGWU; UCATT and Amicus) had been involved in blacklisting in any way.
The legal team consists of Nick Randall KC (Matrix Chambers) and John Carl Townsend (33 Chancery Lane Chambers) as investigators, and Paul Heron from the Public Interest Law Centre. They are fully independent from Unite the Union.
Meeting the Inquiry team
This Inquiry is now sitting. We would be interested to hear from you if you are a construction worker and you believe that you were a victim of blacklisting and that this was linked to trade union collusion.