A landmark case involving allegations of contemporary “blacklisting” on the flagship Crossrail project has concluded following a statement in open court yesterday (Monday 20 March).
Unite member Daniel Collins, an electrician, took a case for blacklisting, breaches of data protection and misuse of private information against construction companies Crossrail, Costain, Skanska, T Clarke and NG Bailey.
Mr Collins had the full support of Unite who instructed employment solicitors Thompsons to act on his behalf.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said:
“This was a hugely significant case and demonstrates how Unite will back its members to the hilt. Unite is totally focused on defending the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and it will use all avenues available to defend their interests.”
In February 2015, while working for the Costain/Skanska joint venture at Bond Street, Mr Collins raised serious safety concerns. He was dismissed from the project three days later.
After that date, and even though he was continually applying for work across the Crossrail project, Mr Collins was not able to secure a position. On a number of occasions, he was offered roles which were later withdrawn.
As a result of being unable to secure work, Mr Collins was forced to leave the construction sector and had to seek employment elsewhere.
Mr Collins then made a series of subject access requests that revealed how personal information about him had been widely circulated. This included an internal email from Costain that said: “We have a potential issue. Danny Collins is part of the Unite activist group”.
He also discovered that Costain, Skanska and T Clarke held private information on him concerning a grievance he had submitted to an employment agency Premier People Recruitment (PPR), concerning an unrelated matter when he was working at Heathrow Airport. Mr Collins believes the details of the grievance had nothing to do with Costain, Skanska and T Clarke and there was no legitimate reason for them to have the information.
In addition, the Labour Manager at T Clarke had forwarded the email correspondence about the grievance to his company’s group chief executive and group managing director and said: “Read and delete!!! I hope we never end up with this bloke on any of our sites.”
Although the companies involved denied liability, they agreed to pay damages to Mr Collins and have agreed to pay Mr Collins’ legal costs “for purely commercial reasons and without admission of liability or wrongdoing”.
The involvement of Costain and Skanska in the case is significant. The two companies, alongside Strabag, have formed a joint venture company and are undertaking work on HS2 at Euston Station and in London. Unlike other joint venture companies working on HS2, the Skanska Costain Strabag joint venture has refused to agree an access agreement with Unite and won’t allow officials access to its welfare facilities to speak to workers, even though this is required by the client HS2.
Rachel Halliday, the solicitor from Thompsons who acted for Mr Collins during the case, said:
“We were proud to represent Mr Collins and to secure him a settlement of his claim.”
The full statement in court