Apr 09 2015


Brian Higgins, a much blacklisted building worker and Secretary of the rank and file Building Workers Group, reviews Blacklisted, The Secret War between Big Business and Union Activists, by David Smith and Phil Chamberlain.


This much needed book is a powerful and always compelling expose. It is sometimes moving with first hand accounts by the victims of the extremely sinister blacklisting conspiracy conducted by multi national building employers and others against organised labour in the construction industry.

Continue reading “BLACKLISTED”

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Jan 27 2015


Brian Higgins of the rank and file Building Workers Group sent us this obituary for Dave Williams, a militant building worker and like Brian on the employers’  black list.


Campaigning against the blacklist

Campaigning against the blacklist


Recently I received the very sad news that blacklisted bricklayer Dave Williams died in November following a serious illness. Condolences to Dave’s family and friends.

He was one of the best and most principled trade unionists I have ever had the privilege of knowing and working alongside. I first met him when I went to London in 1977 to work on the Fairweather site near Clapham Junction where 550 council houses were being built.

Continue reading “DAVE WILLIAMS – A TRIBUTE”

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Mar 25 2013


Emancipation & Liberation has been giving its support to Jerry Hicks, the rank and file candidate for the General Secretary of UNITE. In this article reprinted from the rank and file Siteworker bulletin, Jerry attacks the current UNITE leadership’s ‘Johnny-come-lately’ attitude towards the pernicious system of blacklisting, of which Jerry has himself been a victim.

thBlacklisting of workers is a ‘National scandal’ and the scandal is that it has gone on for so long and not enough was done by those shouting the loudest now.

Millions of people would be forgiven for thinking that the illegal blacklisting of 3,200 construction workers has suddenly been discovered. Yet it has been the worst kept secret for over two decades that those who spoke up with concerns for Health and Safety on construction sites or defended wages and conditions were punished and denied employment. Brave people paid a heavy price as each year, each month, each day brought more discrimination – more lives were being wrecked, houses lost to repossession, stress induced ill health, heart attacks and even worse.


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Jan 01 2013


The blacklist is one of the most pernicious tools in the employers’ armoury.  In 2009, its widespread use in the building industry was highlighted by the Information Commissioner’s Office. However, what has also come to light is the collusion of trade union officials in its operation. The article below, revealing the activities of these officials,  is from the latest issue of the rank and file Site Worker paper. More evidence of their betrayals will probably come to light. It may take longer though for information about the third arm of the offensive against trade union activists to surface – the actions of the state. For, ever since the 1972 Building Workers Strike, which led to the jailing of the Shrewsbury Pickets, the state has been determined to ensure that no such challenge  should arise again – and the employers and trade union officialdom have been central to their plans.

Flying pickets in the 1972 Building Workers Strike

Flying pickets in the 1972 Building Workers Strike

When it came to light, after the Information Commissioner’s Office exposed the Consulting Association’s (CA) construction blacklist in 2009, that some Unite and UCATT officials had allegedly been supplying information about rank and file union members directly to the CA, a new trade union low had been reached.

Union officials are supposed to safeguard and protect rank and file union members from the worst excesses and practices of industrial corporations and the bosses who own and run them. Yet here we had union officials actually colluding with a secret employers’ blacklist in the building industry. Trade unionists in the construction industry were denied the right to work, earn a living and to make sites safe. This resulted in dreadful economic and social consequences for them and their families. There can be no greater breach of trade union trust or act of betrayal than this.


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Sep 06 2010

Brian Higgins Anti-Blacklist Campaign

Updates on anti-blacklisting campaign and Brian Higgins


Tribunal process grinds on… and on

After months of being involved in the tribunal process, Brian Higgins, with other UCATT and UNITE members, has now reached the stage where he is waiting for a preliminary hearing which will decide whether he has a case that will be heard at a full hearing.  You would think being named on the Consulting Association Construction Database Blacklist (CACD), along with the naming of one of the companies, Laing (now Laing O’Rourke) would be enough for a full hearing. Fraid not.

The wheels of industrial ‘justice’, which are very heavily weighted in favour of the employers anyway, turn ever so slowly, and usually fall off, both for blacklisted trade unionists and for workers in general. Most particularly, when employers want this to be the case and they are clearly slowing things down in the matter of the named blacklisted construction workers versus the CACD and named building employers. Coupled with the fact that industrial tribunals were never meant to deal with something as serious, sinister and political as blacklisting and the attack on and denial of civil, trade union and human rights. No one holds out much hope for any sort of justice via this route. But you have to fail before a British court before you can take your case to the European Court of Human Rights. These cases should be dealt with in a criminal court, but of course it is not a criminal offence to blacklist trade unionists in the UK. This is an absolute disgrace.

British ‘justice’ for building trade unionists – remember Shrewsbury

The British state, building employers and the so-called justice system already have serious form when it comes to building trade unionists organising and fighting for their rights and safety on site. They showed exactly what they think of this when they conspired with MacAlpine to put a group of building trade unionists, who were members of UCATT and TGWU, in jail on trumped up charges at Shrewsbury Crown Court, following the national building workers’ strike in 1972. Des Warren and Ricky Tomlinson got the most severe sentences. Des died prematurely because of drugs – the liquid cosh – they forcibly administer to him, while in prison, basically to try to silence him. This is a campaign going on today to try to clear the names of the Shrewsbury pickets. So it is no surprise that the law continues to allow building employers to get away with conspiring against building trades unionists by the truly appalling use of blacklisting. As a lawyer said, It’s a scandal there is not an effective law against blacklisting.

They also get away with murder

It’s also worth remembering that building employers get away with murder with the killing week in, week out, of building workers in so-called site accidents. So again, it’s really no surprise they get away with blacklisting.

Glenis Willmot, MEP, and leader of EU Parliamentary Labour Party

The only chance of getting any sort of justice for all blacklisted building trade unionists is by going to the European Court of Human Rights, This means going to the European parliament to campaign for a law to outlaw blacklisting EU-wide, and have the UK subject to European law in this regard. Knowing this, Brian got in contact with Glenis Willmot MEP. With the help of Steve Murphy, UCATT Midlands Regional Secretary, Glenis got back to Brian and they now correspond.  She has also put a written question on blacklisting in the UK, and in general, to the European Commission, with the hope of getting a favourable response, If this is achieved, it can be used to campaign for a law against blacklisting in the European Parliament.

Of course, even if the answer is unfavourable, the issue and the need for a Euro-law to cover this, is still the same. Glenis and like-minded MEPs should campaign for a law against blacklisting and blacklists.

Blacklisting is a crime against humanity and any kind of justice, freedom and democracy. It should have no place whatsoever in a modern society, which professes to espouse these values and principles. Surely this cries out for the UK and European Parliaments to make blacklisting a criminal offence and one which sees the perpetrators of this horrific practice punished severely enough to put a stop to this industrial evil once and for all.

Motion passed by Aberdeen branch of Oil Industry Liaison Committee

Blacklisting has always been a curse in both the oil and construction industries. But employers have always denied its existence. However now with the discovery and exposition by the Information Commissioners Office of a list of 3,200 names construction trade unionists held by an organisation entitled The Consulting Construction Database, and naming of so many multi-national construction firms, who used and paid for this blacklist, this has provided undeniable evidence and proof of the blacklist in construction.

The blacklisting by the CACD of Brian Higgins, Secretary of Northampton UCATT Branch, is an example of just how bad blacklisting can get, and will continue to be, for all construction trade unionists if it is not stopped. Bro, Higgins has spent in total about 25 years unemployed as a direct result of the blacklist in construction. An injury to one is an injury to all, we call on the RMT Executive to support all campaigns against the blacklist.

The OILC Branch calls for the Council of Executives to ask RMT-sponsored MO, John McDonnell, to raise Bro. Higgins’s case in Parliament and to work for the existing, toothless law on blacklisting to be massively toughened to deter and punish ruthless, callous employers resorting to this vile and sinister practice that is a denial of human and trade union rights. Blacklisting makes a mockery of all employer/union agreements.

We also ask for the EC to support pursuing the struggle for justice all the way to the European Court of Human rights. Plus a campaign for a European Employment Law which criminalises blacklisting and severely punishes employers who use the practice and which forces guilty employers to pay substantial damages to those they try to blacklist.

Previous article written about this campaign.

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