Carillion at centre of blacklisting scandal

Swindon Hospital Carillion strikers outside the company’s head offices in London
Swindon Hospital Carillion strikers outside the company’s head offices in London

THE GMB has found that the senior Carillion HR manager involved in the Swindon dispute was the same HR manager for Carillion that dealt with the blacklisting organisation that lead to the exclusion of thousands of trade unionist from employment.

Dave Smith, a trade unionist who was blacklisted by his employer Carillion, and who has been invited to address a rally in support of the GMB members on strike at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon this Saturday, has advised the GMB about the activities of a Carillion HR manager involved with the Swindon dispute in his own blacklisting.

The GMB has learned from Dave Smith that a London Employment Tribunal in January was presented with evidence that Liz Keates, the Carillion HR Director involved in the dispute at Swindon, managed Carillion’s relationship with the Consulting Association.

This was the body that was responsible for the ‘blacklisting’ of 3,200 construction workers and excluding them from employment because of their trade union activities.

In February 2009 officers from the Information Commissioners Office seized documents which made clear that the Consulting Association was operating a blacklist of trade unionists on behalf of major companies in the construction industry including Carillion.

There has since been an admission by Carillion that two of its subsidiaries had ‘penalised’ Dave Smith for being a trade unionist.

GMB members were on the eleventh day of strike action at Great Western Hospital in Swindon on Monday.

They returned to work at midnight, ahead of a further seven-day-stoppage which will take place from Saturday 17th March to Friday 23rd March.

A St Patrick’s Day march and rally will be held in support of the strikers at the start of a further seven-days-strike.

The details are as follows: Assemble 11.15am, Saturday 17th March, Salisbury Street, Swindon SN1 2AN. Rally, 1.00pm Canal Wharf, SN1 5PL.

Speakers invited include Dave Smith, construction worker blacklisted by Carillion; Jerry Hicks, Unite and Blacklisted Workers Campaign; Anne Snelgrove Swindon Labour Party; John Drake, Chair SW TUC plus speakers from GMB.

The GMB last week called on Carillion to establish an investigation board to oversee the investigation into the allegations of bullying, harassment and discrimination of GMB members employed on the PFI contract at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon.

The GMB has suggested that this Board consist of representatives from Carillion, the NHS Hospital Trust, GMB and the PFI owner Semperian.

The GMB has also raised with Carillion the company’s invitation to the Police to investigate matters connected with the allegations of bullying and harassment.

The GMB is keen to be involved in this investigation.

Although these members have already taken 11 days of strike action between February 14th and March 12th  there has been no movement whatsoever by Carillion to deal with the issues at the heart of the dispute.

This is the reason the GMB has called for an investigation board to be established to get progress.

During the next round of strike days, the GMB says these union members will fan out across the country to visit staff employed by Carillion at other locations and they will also visit staff at locations where Semperian own the PFI contract.

During these visits they will seek support and explain the alleged ‘tax dodging’ involved in these PFI contracts.

Paul Maloney, GMB Regional Secretary said: ‘GMB has been amazed that Carillion has not been able to resolve the allegations of bullying and harassment which was first brought to their attention three months ago.

‘We simply could not understand why dealing with what looks on the surface to be matters that are easily dealt with has taken such an amount of time.

‘However, now we find that the senior Carillion HR manager involved in the Swindon dispute was the HR manager for Carillion that dealt with the blacklisting organisation that led to the exclusion of thousands of trade unionist from employment.

‘Liz Keates managed the relationship for Carillion that led to the blacklisting of trade unionists for trade union activities.

‘This now poses serious questions as to why there has been such foot dragging and duplicity at Swindon.’

More than 120 GMB members in dispute with Carillion at Swindon, work as porters and housekeepers in catering and cleaning and other support roles at the hospital.

They took part in a third 24-hour-stoppage on Thursday 23rd February which followed two previous 24-hour-stoppages on 14th Feb and on 21st Feb over bullying, harassment and discrimination by local Carillion management.

These were followed by three further days of strike action on 27th, 28th and 29th February.

Monday 12th March was the final day of a further five-day-strike which began on Thursday March 8th.

At talks last month 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, the GMB has filled discrimination claims on behalf of the members at the Employment Tribunal. Semperian has also been joined to these tribunal cases.

On 29th February the strikers visited Carillion Head Office in Wolverhampton and to the Library of Birmingham project in central Birmingham.

On Monday 27th they visited Virgin Telecom in Basingstoke from where the company are drawing staff on strike days.

On Friday 24th February GMB members visited Carillion staff at Darenth Valley hospital in Dartford Kent. On Wednesday 22nd protests took place outside Burma Castrol offices in Swindon where Carillion are drawing staff to do their jobs on strike days.

On Tuesday 21st the strikers staged a demonstration outside the headquarters of Carillion in London.

This followed a protest on Monday 20th outside the Zurich Insurance HQ building in Swindon where Carillion are also drawing staff to do their jobs on strike days.

This followed a protest by Carillion staff outside Nationwide Building Society HQ in Swindon on Thursday 16th Feb as Carillion also drew staff from there to do their jobs on strike days.

Last month the GMB was given assurances by the RMT and ASLEF, whose members’ London Transport  pension fund is a major shareholder in Semperian PPP Investment Partners, the owners of the 30 year PFI contract at Great Western Hospital in Swindon, that they would intervene in the dispute with  Carillion staff at the hospital.

GMB members voted overwhelmingly for strike action in protest against bullying and discrimination at the hospital and are demanding 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.