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Major construction firm CB&I found guilty of trade union blacklisting

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Major engineering and construction firm CB&I has lost the first case brought under new legislation outlawing trade union blacklists.

Ashford Employment Tribunal ruled that CB&I unlawfully refused employment to Phil Willis because he is a member of Unite trade union.

The tribunal heard that Mr Willis submitted an application to CB&I to work on a major engineering and construction project on the Isle of Grain, Kent in 2007.

Although CB&I acknowledged his application, he was not contacted again because of a blacklist compiled by the Consulting Association. The blacklist was distributed to around 40 construction firms and named around 3,000 'workers to avoid' because of their links to trade unions.

The blacklist was exposed last year following a high-profile raid and court case brought by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

The ICO contacted Mr Willis following the raid and sent him a copy of his 'blacklist file'. This prompted him to file a claim under section 137 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act.

Speaking after the tribunal verdict Mr Willis said: "We are beside ourselves with delight.

"The judgement was absolutely damning against CB&I, so much so that it reduced us to tears. It was such a great victory for us and for all those who will eventually follow in our footsteps."

Tom Hardacre, Unite union's national officer for construction, was also jubilant. "It is the first successful case against a major construction company, but it will not be the last," he said.

"The union is currently providing legal support to a number of workers who believe they have been blacklisted.

"Too many construction workers have suffered victimisation at the hands of unscrupulous employers. Unite intends to use the full force of the law to hold firms to account for systematically ruining people's livelihoods just because a few brave men were prepared to stand up for the rights of their fellow work colleagues.

The tribunal ordered CB&I to pay Mr Willis £18,375 in damages.

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