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Report: Blacklist Support Group meeting in Liverpool

Wed, 27/02/2013 - 01:36

A meeting of the Merseyside Blacklist Support Group took place last Saturday (February 23rd). The event was attended by numerous blacklisted construction workers and addressed by a panel of speakers including Steve Acheson, a blacklisted electrician from Manchester who has been picketing the Fiddler’s Ferry power station for the last 5 years to highlight the injustice inflicted on him.

Steve spoke about the collusion between trade union officials and construction companies that led to him and countless others being denied employment due to their trade union activities (often simply raising health and safety concerns on sites). Steve said he had only three terms of employment over a nine-year period and had been removed from all of them as a result of being blacklisted.

Roy Bentham, who was blacklisted in the early 1990s and is spokesperson for Merseyside Blacklist Support Group, noted that the collusion of union officials in blacklisting shows “what we’re up against in our own movement”. He also said that an offshore blacklist continues to operate and called on blacklisted workers to join the ‘no win, no fee’ High Court legal action seeking compensation from construction companies.

A solicitor from the firm undertaking the legal action said the court case had never looked so promising. He did, however, reveal that blacklisted workers who cannot prove they suffered economic loss after 1993 (when the Consulting Association which operated the blacklist was formed) will not be able to join the fight for compensation. Before 1993, the blacklist had been operated by the Economic League although, according to the solicitor, no definitive proof of this had been attained, making legal action problematic. He also warned against having much faith in the IPCC investigation into police involvement in blacklisting.

Others present offered their own personal insights into the devastation caused by blacklisting to the lives of so many workers: unemployment, lost income, poverty, broken families, suicide, mental health problems. Some called for union officials involved in collusion to be stripped of their union pensions.

A SolFed member and former building labourer highlighted the Labour Party’s sudden eagerness to take up the cause of blacklisting. As with austerity and the Bedroom Tax, Labour’s motivation is clearly to jump on populist bandwagons in an attempt to try and win back some of the many working-class voters who have deserted them. They should neither be trusted nor allowed to get away with it.

The collusion of union officials demonstrates the inherent weaknesses of mainstream unions and the need for us to directly control our own workplace and community struggles, without intermediaries. Only through solidarity, direct action and self-organisation can we effectively fight the many injustices we face as a class and bring about a world built on freedom and workers' self-management.

View the Blacklisted video here.



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