THOUSANDS of blacklisted workers are set to be offered compensation pay-offs of up to £100,000 each by major construction firms, it emerged yesterday.
Secret files kept on workers in the construction sector resulted in them being denied work after raising legitimate health and safety concerns or exercising their right to belong to a trade union.
Eight major construction companies, who have set up a compensation fund for workers, could now make pay-offs to more than 3,000 UK blacklisting victims from early next year.
The industry is considering paying workers between £1,000 and £100,000 each, a spokeswoman for the Construction Workers Compensation Scheme confirmed yesterday.
Nearly 5,000 construction workers in Scotland have previously been reported to be on employers’ blacklists, with the Commons Scottish affairs select committee carrying out an investigation into the practice.
However, politicians and unions claim the pay-outs will exclude many workers, with blacklisting much more widespread than among just the eight firms signed up to the compensation scheme.
Labour MP Ian Davidson, the Scottish affairs select committee chairman, said: “I welcome the fact that some companies have accepted their role in blacklisting and accepted that something needs to be done to make good the wrongs inflicted on working people.
“Any arrangement has to be agreed with the trade unions and the representatives of blacklisted workers. I’ll seek to clarify why only a handful of guilty companies have come forward.”
Many workers had no idea they were on blacklists, which were uncovered by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in a 2009 raid on the offices of The Consulting Association (TCA), which sold secret personal data to firms who wanted to vet potential employees.
A compensation scheme was launched earlier this year by firms including Balfour Beatty, Carillion and Sir Robert McAlpine. A scheme spokeswoman said the companies were likely to write to blacklisted employees in early 2014.
Unions say more than 40 of the UK’s largest construction firms used a blacklist. The Unite union has called for fresh negotiations over the levels of compensation paid to workers ahead of an anti-blacklisting protest at Holyrood tomorrow.
Unite assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail, said: “Thousands of lives were ruined just because workers belonged to a trade union or raised health and safety concerns in the country’s most dangerous industry.
“That only eight of the 44 firms involved in blacklisting have committed to action is not good enough. All 44 firms must commit to owning up, paying up, cleaning up without delay.”