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Leading construction firms to compensate workers

Workers whose names were kept on a secret industry blacklist are set to receive major levels of compensation from eight leading construction companies, including Balfour Beatty, Carillion and Costain.

There have been rumours of such practices for many years, but it took intense campaigning from industry unions to reveal the list, which contained the names of some 3,200 building professionals and other workers.

It had been drawn up by an amorphous organisation called The Consulting Association (TCA), with builders often finding themselves blacklisted simply for raising legitimate concerns over shoddy health and safety practices on site.

Legal action is being taken on behalf of some of those on the list, while TCA has announced plans are afoot to compensate the workers.

The other construction companies involved in this episode are Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci Plc. They have issued a joint apology to any building professionals affected by this illegal practice.

Justin Bowden, of the GMB, said: "Firms admitting they engaged in a terrible abuse of the civil rights of thousands of UK workers is an important step. The next step is clean up and pay up."

Some unions have called on further actions to be taken against the organisations - a number of those on the illegal list spent more than eight years out of work as a result of the discriminatory practice.

The Blacklist Support Group, which has links to the International Workers' Association, suggested that it is not satisfied with the formal apology and expressed concerns over the vague approach taken by the guilty firms.

"We want every single person who is on the TCA blacklist to be compensated and jobs guaranteed for blacklisted workers on major construction projects," it declared.

Unions have called for a Leveson-style inquiry into the practice of blacklisting, with the Trades Union Congress planning a national day of protest on November 20th to increase public awareness of the issue and signal its determination to keep the issue in the headlines.