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EAT Win For Carillion Swindon Workers

Friday, September 5, 2014

Employment Appeal Tribunal Rules That Claims By GMB Members At Swindon Hospital For Discrimination Against Carillion Can Be Heard At Employment Tribunal

This is a great result for these hospital workers involved in this long running dispute and gives an opportunity to expose Carillion’s scandal at Swindon to proper legal scrutiny says GMB.

A decision in favour of GMB members employed by Carillion at the Great Western PFI Hospital in Swindon has now been handed down by Mr Justice Wilkie of Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).

The decision arises from hearing that took place on 1st July at the EAT before Mr Justice Wilkie in the long running dispute between GMB and Carillion at the Great Western PFI Hospital in Swindon. See notes to editors 1 for progress in the dispute to date.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal hearing following an employment tribunal judge’s finding in early 2013 that 51 Swindon hospital workers could not amend their employment tribunal claims against Carillion to include allegations of harassment and indirect race discrimination, and further allegations of direct race discrimination.

On 1st September 2014 Judgement was handed down. Mr Justice Wilkie found the employment tribunal judge had erred in law by not allowing claims of harassment and indirect race discrimination to proceed.  He further remitted the cases back to the employment tribunal judge to decide whether allegations post-dating the original claims should be included.

This means 51 GMB members at the hospital will now be able to pursue their claims before the employment tribunal and hold Carillion to account for race discrimination, bullying and harassment and victimisation.

GMB members work as porters and housekeepers in catering and cleaning and other support roles at the Swindon PFI hospital. GMB members originally voted overwhelmingly in December 2011 for strike action in protest against bullying and discrimination at the hospital. GMB members demanded that Carillion management act to stop the culture of bullying on the contract and for an end to discrimination in the application of pay and conditions on the contract.

GMB members took 21 days of strike action but the company was not prepared to uphold any of the grievances of the staff. As a consequence GMB filed discrimination claims on behalf of the members at the Employment Tribunal (ET). There was a preliminary hearing in ET which was held on during December 2012 and January 2013. GMB launched an appeal against the ET decision on 13 March 2013. 

In a separate dispute GMB is taking Carillion to the High Court seeking compensation and is calling for them  and others firms to be excluded from tendering for any further public sector contracts until they compensate workers that they blacklisted. See notes to editors 2 for details of Carillion blacklisting.

Shazia Khan, Partner at law firm Bindmans LLP, said "This is a group of workers who allege to have been subjected to prolonged extortion and debasing treatment by their multinational employer.   It is absolutely right that Carillion should be held to account for its alleged unlawful discriminatory conduct before the Employment Tribunal."

Maria Ludkin, GMB National Officer for Legal and Corporate Affairs, said “This is a great result for the Swindon hospital workers, which will now allow their claims for discrimination to proceed to trial. We are looking forward to the opportunity to expose Carillion's scandal at Swindon to proper legal scrutiny.”

End

Contact: Paul Maloney, GMB Regional Secretary on 07801 343839 or Justin Bowden, GMB National Officer on 07710 631351 or Maria Ludkin GMB National Officer for Legal and Corporate Affairs on 07956 632 657 or GMB Press Office: Steve Pryle on 07921 289880 or Rose Conroy on 07974 251823.

Notes to Editors:

1 Progress of GMB dispute with Carillion in Swindon from December 2011 up to September 2014.

The GMB members work as porters and housekeepers in catering and cleaning and other support roles at the Swindon PFI hospital. The industrial action only involves GMB members who work for Carillion. It does not involve the more than 200 GMB members who work for the NHS Trust or the ambulance service at the Great Western Hospital.

GMB members originally voted overwhelmingly in December 2011 for strike action in protest against bullying and discrimination at the hospital. GMB members demanded that Carillion management act to stop the culture of bullying on the contract and for an end to discrimination in the application of pay and conditions on the contract.

GMB submitted a formal complaint by 109 staff over allegations of bullying in December 2011. During the early months of 2012 90 staff members gave evidence of terrible bullying.
In total GMB members have taken 21 days of strike action so far. They took part in 24 hour stoppages on 14th, 21st and 23rd Feb over bullying, harassment and discrimination by local Carillion management. These were followed by 3 further days of strike action on 27th, 28th and 29th February. There were five days of strike action between 8th & 12th March. A further seven days strike took place between March 17th and March 23rd. There was a march and rally in Swindon on March 17th. The 19th day of strike action took place on May 16th. There was also a public meeting in Swindon on that date. The 20th day of strike action was on June 11th when the strikers visited GMB Congress in Brighton. These members took part in a further one day stoppage on Sunday 15th July. This was the twenty first day of strike action by these workers who took part in the march and rally at Tolpuddle that day.
In June 2012 these GMB members learned that a second investigation by Carillion into complaints by members found evidence of bribery and shakedowns on the contract. Written reports of the second investigation into GMB members’ grievances was circulated to members also admitted to racism, bullying and intimidation.

Carillion did not invite GMB to discuss the outcome of the second investigation. Instead the company issued disciplinary proceedings against 10 GMB members who were the whistleblowers and the victims of the bullying and ‘gold for employment rights’. These members have now been found guilty of being “shaken down”. GMB is appealing these guilty verdicts.

The manager at the heart of the bullying allegations left Carillion in February 2012. At talks with GMB in February 2012 Carillion said that they had reluctantly accepted the resignation of the manager at the centre of the dispute but that they were not prepared to uphold any of the grievances of the staff. As a consequence GMB filed discrimination claims on behalf of the members at the Employment Tribunal.

There was a preliminary hearing in ET which was held on 12, 13 December 2012 and 18 January. The ET decision appealed was 13 March 2013 to the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT). The EAT hearing took place on 1 July 2014 and a decision was handed down on 1st September 2014. 

2 Carillion and blacklisting.
In a separate dispute GMB is calling for Carillion and others firms to be excluded from tendering for any further public sector contracts until they compensate workers that they blacklisted.

224 construction workers from around the UK were victims of blacklisting by Carillion. The names, on the files of the blacklisting body The Consulting Association, were released in the course of an Employment Tribunal in early 2012 when Carillion was accused of blacklisting a construction worker in London.

The 224 people blacklisted by Carillion were either based in or tried to obtain work in the following areas ( with numbers in the area  listed in brackets): Barnsley (1), Birkenhead (2), Blackburn (5), Brentwood (1), Bristol (1), Caernarfon (2), Canvey Island in Essex (1), Chatham in Kent (3), Cheshire (1), Chester (1), Cleator Moor in Cumbria (1), Clwyd (5), Croydon (1), Derby (1), Dundee (1), Edinburgh (2), Ellesmere Port (3), Essex (1), Folkestone (1), Gateshead (1), Glasgow (1), Gravesend (1), Grimsby (1), Hartlepool (2), Hillingdon (1), Irvine (1), Isle of Man (10), Kent (58), Kirkby (1), Leeds (2), Liverpool (14), Livingston (3), Llandudno (1), London (39), Lowestoft (1), Manchester (13), Merseyside (5), Mold (1), North Wales (1), Oldham (1), Plymouth (1), Rayleigh (1), Romford (2), Rotherham (4), Scunthorpe (1), Sheffield (1), Sherburn in Elmet in North Yorkshire (1), Stanford-le-Hope in Essex (2), Sunderland (1), Surrey (1), Thatcham in Berkshire (1), Uxbridge (3), Warrington (1), West Wickham (1), Wirral (5) and Woodbridge in Suffolk (1). See map for aggregated details. Some areas are listed more than once as the addresses on the blacklist are not complete.

This information is contained in a GMB report “BLACKLISTING - illegal corporate bullying endemic, systemic and deep-rooted in Carillion and other companies” which is published at GMB Congress in  Brighton in 2012. The report is available as a pdf on the GMB website at www.gmb.org.uk .

Blacklisting came to light when in 2009 the ICO seized a Consulting Association database of 3,213 construction workers and environmental activists used by 44 companies to vet new recruits and keep out of employment trade union and health and safety activists. See notes to editors 2 for the 97 areas in Scotland listed alphabetically where workers blacklisted are from with numbers.

In July 2014, Leigh Day, acting for GMB, began action in the High Court in London seeking compensation for 122 GMB members blacklisted by Carillion and other firms. GMB’s claims are joined with a further 449 claims by other unions and parties.

In June 2014 talks between GMB and lawyers representing eight construction employers on a compensation scheme for 3,213 blacklisted workers broke down in June over the amount of money being put into the scheme by the employers. The eight construction employers are Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI PLC.

Following the breakdown of talks these employers announced that they are unilaterally going ahead with a scheme GMB estimates will cost these employers between £15m and £20m. This is less than 2% of the combined profits of the eight construction firms in the talks.

 

 

 

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