Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Blacklist campaigner knocked down

Police have questioned a car driver who left a Manchester building worker seriously injured. George Tapp, a 64-year old electrician, seems unlikely to work again after both his kneecaps were broken during a protest to raise awareness that building workers have beenthe victims of blacklisting by construction company BAM Nuttall.
The incident occurred when around 50 protesters distributed leaflets outside the Manchester City Football Club (MCFC) Academy construction project being built by BAM Nuttall at a cost of £100 million.
Between 1996 and 2009, BAM Nuttall paid £38,371.85 for checks to be run on workers by the Consulting Association (CA), an organisation that held a blacklist of 3,213 workers variously described as “extreme troublemaker”, “politically motivated” and “active in dispute”. Listed workers, including many elected union safety representatives, were “not recommended for employment”. The list included 507 workers from the North West.
CA was closed four years ago and its owner, the late Ian Kerr, was convicted of breaching the Data Protection Act.
The union Unite, of which Tapp is a member, has accused BAM of being involved in the blacklisting and victimising of trade unionists working on Crossrail, the biggest construction project in Europe.
Blacklisted workers want firms involved in the practice banned from securing council contracts. Salford, where Tapp was formerly a Labour councillor, is one of a handful of local authorities that has adopted such restrictions.
Workers also want private sector businesses to refuse to award contracts to proven blacklisters. Amongst the blacklisted workers outside the MCFC project were a number of Manchester City season-ticket holders. They included Graham Bowker who, along with electricians Steve Acheson and Tony Jones, won an Industrial Tribunal case in 2006 when it was ruled they had been unfairly dismissed from jobs as subcontractors on the Carillion- organised Royal Manchester Infirmary site.
Speaking from his hospital bed there, Tapp claimed he was “driven directly at, resulting
in me being knocked on to the bonnet. The tyres were burning rubber and I travelled quite a distance and the driver appeared to be laughing at me.”
When Tapp fell from the front of the Ford Ka its driver left the scene. Unconscious, he was taken by ambulance to hospital. CCTV coverage of the incident on Ashton New Road was later recovered by Greater Manchester Police (GMP).
GMP has since interviewed the driver of the vehicle and released him without charge.
It disputes Tapp’s version of events, with a press officer stating: “CCTV confirms that people climbed on the bonnet of the car.
“Ongoing investigations mean we cannot say whether there will be charges brought against the driver or the demonstrators.”
Acheson was with Tapp when he was injured and describes as “disgusting and fantasy any claims that people climbed on the car bonnet”.
He added: “The police should release the CCTV so people can make up their own minds.”
Compensation call
GMP has said it would not be doing this “as this is potential evidence should there be any court proceedings”.
Doctors estimate Tapp will be in hospital for at least two months and will need reconstructive surgery with steel rods. He hopes eventually to be able to rejoin protests against the blacklist.
“It’s wrong that trade unionist representatives can be victimised for standing up for safety at work and the rights of workers,” he said.
The Scottish Affairs Select Committee is currently taking evidence on blacklisting in employment. Last month it criticised construction companies for being “in complete denial over blacklisting”.

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