Why hasn't McCluskey probed bent officials before?
Why didn't Mrs. Cartmail interview Whistleblower Wainwright?
Why are blacklisted workers still waiting for justice?GUARDIAN journalist. Rob Evans last Monday wrote that 'blacklisted workers want an inquiry by a legal expert to interview trade union officials and victims, and see if information was handed over deliberately.'
by Brian Bamford
by Brian Bamford
Now Unite, the UK's biggest trade union, is facing calls to set up an inquiry into claims that union officials gave information to a clandestine blacklisting operation funded by major firms and enabling them to deny jobs to certain workers.
Long suspected details of the alleged complicity have emerged in documents prepared for a high court action following which construction firms apologised and paid compensation totalling around £75m to 771 blacklisted workers. The evidence of the complicity of trade union officials and managers has led to a group of 41 blacklisted workers to call on Unite to commission an independent inquiry into the claims.
Why hasn't McCluskey probed bent officials before?The election for the new Unite General Secretary closes on the 19th, April, and the existing general secretary Len McCluskey has said that he will 'set up an independent union inquiry to investigate all evidence made available' to him of collusion by union officers in blacklisting. But Mr. McCluskey has been the general secretary of the Unite union for years, why has it taken so long for him to offer an inquiry? Couldn't he have done this earlier?
Meanwhile, the Unite union's acting general secretary, Gail Cartmail has said: 'Only a full public inquiry with judicial authority will fully explain the depth to which the state and employers colluded to deny construction workers employment.'
'Unite has campaigned legally, industrially and politically to win justice for blacklisted workers and to ensure the disgusting practice of blacklisting is ended once and for all. Blacklisting is an industrial crime, the blame for which lays squarely at the door of the construction companies..'
Yet, Ms Cartmail herself conducted her own investigation in 2011 on behalf of the Unite union, and on the 2nd, November 2011, this Northern Voices Blog stated that her report 'cleared the union officer':
'THE Report and investigation into 'alleged Officer collusion in Blacklisting in the construction sector' conducted by an Assistant General Secretary of Unite, Gail Cartmail, has concluded that: 'Despite considerable effort I have not discovered evidence against officers' of the union. She writes that while 'I accept that this may disappoint some activists, who are justifiably angry and who have suffered ... great injustice arising from Blacklisting', she urges that 'workers officials of the union are also entitled to dignity at work and in the absence of any proof I trust that such allegation of collusion (in Blacklisting) will now desist.'
She was telling us to 'desist' is asking questions about collusion in 2011, but now she's calling for a public enquiry because she knows the victims of blacklisting are still disgruntled and telling people to 'desist' is not politic.
In her report in 2011 Mrs. Cartmail wrote 'Alleged collusion by union officials' seems to place great stress on the allegations of one man Mr. James Simms, who was a former employee of a predecessor union and has since been employed by Beaver Management Services Ltd and has claimed to have a 'CD-ROM with the names of union officers on it complicit in the Blacklisting of members'. She concluded that Mr. Simms that getting information from Mr. Simms was like extracting teeth.
But Jim Simms was not the most promising whistleblower with regard to the expose of the blacklist in the British building trade. The credit there must surely go to the former electrician and whistleblower, Alan Wainwright, not Jim Simms?
Why didn't Ms. Cartmail interview Whistleblower Wainwright?THE whistleblower Alan Wainwright wrote a letter to Gail Cartmail, on Monday, the 23rd, July 2012 which he has placed on his own Blog: July - alan wainwright & the construction industry blacklist - blogger www.alanwainwright.blogspot.com/2012_07_01_archive.htm :
Dear Mrs Cartmail
Re Construction Industry Blacklisting
'I was the whistleblower in this matter and provided the evidence which eventually exposed this via David Clancy at the ICO in March 2009. Three years on and we now appear to be making a start at holding the companies accountable for this, but I cannot help but feel that we could have saved at least three years if Mr Simpson had acted when he first came into possession of the evidence in 2005/2006.
'I'm therefore now writing to appeal to you to investigate Derek Simpsons' lack of enthusiasm to investigate and act upon this in 2005/2006 and provide the reasons behind this...
'I've held senior positions at Crown House Engineering (National Labour Manager), Drake & Scull and Haden Young and during those periods of employment the companies paid the union subscriptions of the members as part of a benefits package. The union also received two pounds per week for every agency worker placed on the sites as part of an 'agency workers membership scheme' set up by the Luton office under Harry Hughes. This was a simple head count system and payment made monthly if I recall correctly. I understand the unions received in excess of one million pounds a year from the companies in question under these schemes at the time.
'Although Mr Simpson has now retired, I do believe he receives a handsome pension and a luxury house to live in. I cannot see how this can be justified, as in my opinion he was in a prime position to do something about this and chose not to do so. Mr Clancy had no more or no less evidence than Mr Simpson three years previous but Mr Simpson chose to do nothing about this.'
Mr. Wainwright concluded his letter:
'As you may be aware, Guney Clark Ryan are about to lodge their case to the courts. We may never get full justice for these people, but I think they are at least owed some honesty about why a major union of which many were members did nothing to help them.'
Mrs Cartmail in her reply wrote:
'.... The purpose of your letter was specifically in relation to what you identify as a wasted opportunity on the part of the retired Amicus/Unite General Secretary Derek Simpson who you believe should have done more arising from your correspondence in 2005/2006.
'As you point out Mr Simpson is now retired. The union has no capacity to secure Mr Simpson's cooperation in an investigation. The union recently reviewed Mr Simpson's post retirement benefits, which were subsequently adjusted to the extent that this was possible.
'I empathise with your frustration however do assure you that Unite now gives priority to representing members known to be Blacklisted and is proactively working to achieve better law.'
Readers must decide for themselves why Mrs. Cartmail didn't interview a vital witness such as Mr. Alan Wainwright when she was doing her investigation for the Unite union into blacklisting in 2011?
Why are blacklisted workers still waiting for justice?
TO better understand Gail Cartmail's growing involvement within the campaign against the blacklist, we need to understand the development of the Blacklist Support Group, and how the Rank and File construction worker's campaign began to have political impact, prominence and profile. At some point Mrs. Cartmail recognised this and decided to assimulate herself within the workings of the Blacklist Support Group.
This can clearly be detected in her letter responding to Alan Wainwright in 2012:
Dear Alan'Your effort and those now organised within the Blacklist Support Group has been tremendous in exposing the practice of Blacklisting in the Construction Industry.
'Since February 2011 I have led for the union as AGS for a number of sectors including construction. Over the past 12 months I have learned about different aspects of the ICO raid of the Consulting Association, subsequent litigation and legislative changes introduced by the Labour Government. In the process I have met and come to know many workers who have been the victim of Blacklisting in the industry.
'Both Unite's predecessor unions supported numerous members complaints to their employment tribunal where their application to the ICO showed they were on the Blacklist. We have renewed encouragement to members to bring cases forward. Unfortunately as you probably know the settlements in respect of such cases is relatively low and poor comfort to workers who struggle to find employment commensurate with their qualifications.
'Over the past we have endeavoured to campaign against Blacklisting and work with the Blacklist Support Group on a number of fronts including legal challenges on grounds of disclosure of information and human rights...'
Yet the truth is that the conversion of the of the Unite leadership and that of the politicians within the Labour Party to the campaign against the blacklist for those of us who stood on the lonely picket lines in Manchester, was indeed a slow uphill process. It was only when the Blacklist Support Group became a political bandwagon following the raid by the Information Commissioner in 2009 of the offices of the Consulting Association run by Ian Kerr that things took off.
Alan Wainwright was clearly aware of this in his correspondence with Mrs. Cartmail in 2012:
'I note your comments about the current contribution from the union, but this is simply too little too late and is perceived by some I speak to as just jumping on the bandwagon. I put it to you again that these people are at the very least owed an explanation and an apology of why a major union of which many were members did nothing to help them at the time.'
Jumping on a political bandwagon is one thing Mrs. Cartmail, delivering justice is quite another!