Building bosses who blacklisted workers have started to panic. When a judge announced last month that there would be a 10-week trial next year with 2.8 million pounds at stake the blacklisters started losing their nerve. Lawyers acting for major construction firms offered the 11 workers a total of £415,000, with individual offers ranging from £10,000 to £60,000.
The workers have rejected the offers as “derisory”. Only one of the 11 involved, an engineer from Glasgow in his seventies who was offered £60,000, is expected to accept the offer.
He was described as a “strike leader” in a dispute in 1978 and his name was checked against a blacklisters’ database when he applied for work on five future occasions.
But law firm Leigh Day said that the other ten bringing actions could receive substantially higher sums. They point to the fact that celebrities who sued The Daily Mirror over hacked phones were awarded damages on the basis of each occasion that their privacy was breached. Leigh Day believes that builders may now be given sums based on how many entries their blacklist file includes.
Files including personal information, such as family details, could also lead to greater compensation than with those recording only industrial activity. The workers also expect compensation for loss of earnings and substantial interest built-up since their files were started.
Construction union GMB legal chief Maria Ludkin said the offers were derisory and that they would be fighting for every penny of the claim for the workers.
The Information Commissioner’s Office first blew open the blacklisting scandal in 2009 when it seized a list of over 3,000 names from the Consulting Association.