On Monday 9 May, eight major construction companies were due to go on trial at the High Court on blacklisting charges brought on behalf of victims. The companies involved are Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI. However, after last minute improvements in the compensation offers put up by the companies, it was agreed to settle.
A High Court hearing on 11 May heard a public apology and admissions by the firms as to their involvement with blacklisting. Total compensation amounted to about £50m plus £200m in legal costs.
Blacklist Support Group secretary Dave Smith, whilst recognising this development as a “historic victory”, was hard-headed in his comments on the kind of society within which blacklisters continue to flourish.
“The blacklist firms might have hoped that by buying their way out of a show trial that the scandal that has disgraced an entire industry will go away: it won’t. Blacklisting is a human rights conspiracy against trade unionism by big business and shady anti-democratic political policing units within the British state.
“These fat cats and their friends in the police took food off of our children’s table, causing years of family hardship. We take this personally. A few quid and a mealy-mouthed apology is a long way from justice.
“We intend to continue our fight to expose those who orchestrated and colluded with blacklisting. In any civilised society, the wretches would be in jail by now.” (Update from Blacklist Support Group, Unite the Resistance, 9 May 2016)
And, indeed, on 10 May, the Liverpool Echo reported that Merseyside carpenter Roy Bentham has said he will not be accepting the “measly” offer of £35,000 because “he wanted more light shone on the actions of the construction companies involved in the blacklisting”. (Blacklisted Merseyside construction worker says: ‘I won’t accept compensation offer’)