Investigate undercover police role in blacklisting – GMB calls for home office inquiry

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Members of the Blacklist Support Group on the YS march for jobs last year
Members of the Blacklist Support Group on the YS march for jobs last year

THE GMB union has called for a just-announced Home Office inquiry into undercover police to cover blacklisting.

This came during a protest outside Parkside police station, Cambridge on Thursday.

Managers and police shedding crocodile tears now for the blacklisting of 3,213 workers won’t wash, neither will the Nuremberg Defence of ‘just following superior orders’, says the GMB.

A union statement said: ‘The GMB is calling on the Appeal Court judge Lord Justice Pitchford, appointed by Home Secretary Theresa May to head an inquiry into undercover policing and the operation of the Metropolitan Police’s controversial Special Demonstration Squad, to include blacklisting in the scope of the Inquiry.

‘The announcement coincided with a GMB protest demonstration in Cambridge on 12th March to shame Gordon Mills an ex Cambridgeshire policeman linked to blacklisting of 3,213 construction workers.

‘Blacklisting came to light when in 2009 the ICO seized The Consulting Association (TCA) 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.

‘Gordon Mills, ex-Cambridgeshire Police, was the Detective Chief Inspector with the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit (NETCU) who spoke at the secretive Woodstock Meeting in November 2008 to a select group of blacklisting companies who were invited to attend security group meetings held there twice yearly.

‘The “select group” of companies at the meeting Gordon Mills spoke at were Vinci (Mike Harrison), Amec (Tony Crowther), SIAS Building Services, Vinci (Alan Audley), Skanska (Bob Chapman), Sir Robert McAlpine (David Hillman) and a representative from Emcor.

‘This was the fourth date in the second leg of a national “Crocodile Tears” protest tour to shame 63 construction industry managers named as blacklisters who have yet to come clean and apologise for their actions.

‘The second leg of the tour visits Bristol, Plymouth, Epsom, Cambridge, Derby and Bridgend.

‘The protest was held from 11am Thursday 12th March, Outside Parkside Police Station, Parkside, Cambridge CB1 1JG.’

There was a person in a crocodile suit accompanied by union members with flags and banners and slogans, ‘Nuremberg defence on blacklisting won’t wash’ and ‘Blacklisters come clean’.

They also had a placard reading, ‘Crocodile tears from Gordon Mills linked to blacklisting 3,213 workers won’t wash’.

The protest was attended by Dave Smith a blacklisted worker and author of the book ‘Blacklisted: The Secret War between Big Business and Union Activists’ that was being launched between 6-8pm Thursday 12th March in Committee Room 15, Houses of Parliament, Westminster.

The GMB added: ‘The protest was moved from Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge after GMB received written assurances from the university on the future employment of Mr Mills at the college.

‘Mr Mills worked at the University as a part time lecturer on the English legal system.

‘This is some of what GMB know of NETCU:

• NETCU was a Huntingdon-based police organisation, with established links to The Consulting Association, set up by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to counter extremist protest groups.

‘It was set up in 2004, funded by the Home Office and staffed by officers from Cambridge Constabulary and the Metropolitan Police. NETCU was based in Huntingdon using the postcode PE29 9AL, a PO Box code.

‘NETCU lasted until 2010 following a reorganisation into the National Domestic Extremism Unit which in turn was merged into the Metropolitan Police’s Counter-Terrorism Command (SO15).

• In January 2013, The Times published a posthumous interview with Mr Kerr which mentioned his dealings with NETCU: Gordon Mills was the “key officer” mentioned in that article.

‘Mr Kerr told The Times that the association had established links with the police and security services. He recounted a meeting organised by the association in 2008 when eight construction industry directors were addressed by a “key officer” from the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit (NETCU), which was a Huntingdon-based police organisation set up to counter “extremist” protest groups.

‘“They were seeking a channel to inform construction companies (of the information) they were collecting (and) they were wanting to be able to feed it out to the companies,” Kerr said.

‘In return, the NETCU officer purportedly asked the companies to pass on their own information about potential troublemakers and Kerr said that a “two-way information exchange” opened up. A police spokeswoman declined to comment.

‘There was a hearing in the High Court in London on 13th February 2015 seeking compensation for 122 GMB members blacklisted by Carillion and other construction employers.

‘The claims were served on 27th November 2013. GMB’s claims were joined with a further 449 claims by other unions and parties at a High Court Hearing in July 2014.

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

‘Employers have unilaterally launched a cut price scheme the GMB estimates will cost less than 2% of the combined profits of the eight construction firms.

‘So far 1,724 out of the 3,213 on the list know they are on blacklist. 467 were identified by themselves or by their unions. 570 cases are covered by claims in the High Court.

‘ICO contacted direct a further 1,257 and of these 776 have now been sent a copy of their files.

‘That leaves 1,489 still to trace. See notes to editors for details of where those blacklisted come from.’

Justin Bowden, GMB national officer, said: ‘It is essential that Lord Justice Pitchford heading the inquiry into undercover policing and the operation of the Metropolitan Police’s controversial Special Demonstration Squad includes blacklisting in the scope of the Inquiry.

‘Gordon Mills, the ex-Cambridgeshire policeman, might have thought he had got away scot free with his links to the blacklisters.

‘The police had no rights whatsoever to get involved in industrial relations and health and safety issues in the construction sector so Mr Mills was way out of order on this.

‘Shedding crocodile tears now for the systematic blacklisting of 3,213 building workers and environmentalists won’t wash, neither will the Nuremberg Defence of “just following superior orders”.

‘These so-called HR Professionals and police who helped them run the blacklists for the construction companies knew exactly what they were doing.

‘They need to either apologise, come clean and say what they did, or get used to accounting in public for the damage they did to those they blacklisted and their families, especially with the Public Inquiry Labour has pledged after the next election.

‘Just as the construction companies who paid their wages are being called to account in Parliament, the courts and the media, every single one of these secret blacklisters will have their role dissected in public.’