Blacklisted whistleblower sues contractors

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Alan Wainwright, the man who blew the whistle on blacklisting within the construction industry, is making his own legal claim…

Alan Wainwright is pursuing 54 legal claims against contractors and recruiters who denied him work after blowing the whistle on blacklisting activities in the construction sector.

Wainwright exposed how thousands of workers had been blacklisted and prevented from gaining employment by major firms. He is now bringing legal proceedings against more than 35 companies for victimisation and preventing him from gaining employment. In the past 18 months, Wainwright, a former construction industry manager, has applied for 150 jobs unsuccessfully.

Wainwright brought the issue to light after exposing some 3,200 files on workers in 2006. He created a website publicising how the blacklist worked and the names of those on it. He came across the list when he was involved in recruiting. He was instructed to use it and informed by his superiors not to discuss it with anyone as it was “very discreet, a closely guarded secret”.

The blacklisting operation was funded by large construction firms and run from an anonymous office in Droitwich, Worcestershire. Employees were checked against the list before they were hired.

The files on workers included details of their trade union activities, as well as their employment history. Labels were attached to workers such as “lazy and a trouble-stirrer”, “communist party”, and “do not touch”. Workers were denied employment as a result, often without knowing why.

In 2009, the Information Commissioners Office raided the office where the files were kept and shut down the operation, naming more than 40 construction firms who covertly funded it.

Consulting Association, as it was called, was run by Ian Kerr. He was fined £5,000 for breaching data protection.

Among the big firms Wainwright is suing is Balfour Beatty, Carillion, and Laing O’Rourke.

In response to the accusations, a spokesperson for Carillion said: “Recruitment for the role which Mr Wainwright applied for was suspended and he and all other applicants received a letter informing them of this.

“We would therefore deny any allegations of blacklisting and stress that Carillion does not carry out, nor approve of blacklisting.

“All applications for roles are reviewed in a fair and transparent way against the role criteria and in line with our diversity and equality policy.”

A high court case surrounding the blacklisting scandal is set to begin on 9 May and will last three months. Workers are suing firms for ten of millions of pounds. The firms caught up in the legal proceedings include Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Laing O’Rourke and Sir Robert McAlpine.

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