Monday, 23 July 2012

BENT UNION OFFICIALS? (1)

Gail Cartmail Correspondence

I wrote to Gail Cartmail (current Assistant General Secretary at Unite) earlier this year in a bid to gain some justice for the thousands of blacklisted workers who were let down by the union in 2005/2006 when Derek Simpson and other senior union officials came into full possession of all my Blacklisting evidence and did absolutely nothing with it.

Here is a copy of the correspondence exchanged.

Outgoing

Dear Mrs Cartmail

Re Construction Industry Blacklisting

I was the whistleblower in this matter and provided the evidence which eventually exposed this via David Clancy at the ICO in March 2009. Three years on and we now appear to be making a start at holding the companies accountable for this, but I cannot help but feel that we could have saved at least three years if Mr Simpson had acted when he first came into possession of the evidence in 2005/2006.

I'm therefore now writing to appeal to you to investigate Derek Simpsons' lack of enthusiasm to investigate and act upon this in 2005/2006 and provide the reasons behind this.

Mr Tuff (an official from the Midlands) was the very first person I confided in, and he encouraged me to immediately rejoin the union so he could get officially involved. I had previously been a member on and off for many years.

I will however refer you specifically to the correspondence between myself and Mr Simpson in 2006. To the best of my knowledge, he did nothing. Not even a letter to the companies to challenge them about the evidence. Furthermore, he was in a position to support my Tribunal where I would be making this evidence public, but he chose not to do so. This inaction prolonged the suffering of thousands of workers for three more years. A situation which would have carried on indefinitely had Mr Clancy not picked up on this.

I've held senior positions at Crown House Engineering (National Labour Manager), Drake & Scull and Haden Young and during those periods of employment the companies paid the union subscriptions of the members as part of a benefits package. The union also received two pounds per week for every agency worker placed on the sites as part of an 'agency workers membership scheme' set up by the Luton office under Harry Hughes. This was a simple head count system and payment made monthly if I recall correctly. I understand the unions received in excess of one million pounds a year from the companies in question under these schemes at the time.

Although Mr Simpson has now retired, I do believe he receives a handsome pension and a luxury house to live in. I cannot see how this can be justified, as in my opinion he was in a prime position to do something about this and chose not to do so. Mr Clancy had no more or no less evidence than Mr Simpson three years previous but Mr Simpson chose to do nothing about this.

If you do decide to take up this investigation I would strongly recommend that you start with Micky Tuff. Micky was full of enthusiasm to expose this at the time, but his enthusiasm wained. In fact his very last comment to me when asked about what progress was being made was 'no comment' and I didn't hear from him again. I don't place any blame for this on Micky, as the decisions were taken higher up the pay scale and he was most probably pressured into backing down. But I'm sure you'll get to the bottom of it if you start with him.

As you may be aware, Guney Clark Ryan are about to lodge their case to the courts. We may never get full justice for these people, but I think they are at least owed some honesty about why a major union of which many were members did nothing to help them.

Yours sincerely

Alan Wainwright

Incoming

Dear Alan

Your effort and those now organised within the Blacklist Support Group has been tremendous in exposing the practice of Blacklisting in the Construction Industry.

Since February 2011 I have led for the union as AGS for a number of sectors including construction. Over the past 12 months I have learned about different aspects of the ICO raid of the Consulting Association, subsequent litigation and legislative changes introduced by the Labour Government. In the process I have met and come to know many workers who have been the victim of Blacklisting in the industry.

Both Unite's predecessor unions supported numerous members complaints to their employment tribunal where their application to the ICO showed they were on the Blacklist.  We have renewed encouragement to members to bring cases forward. Unfortunately as you probably know the settlements in respect of such cases is relatively low and poor comfort to workers who struggle to find employment commensurate with their qualifications.

Over the past we have endeavoured to campaign against Blacklisting and work with the Blacklist Support Group on a number of fronts including legal challenges on grounds of disclosure of information and human rights.

The purpose of your letter was specifically in relation to what you identify as a wasted opportunity on the part of the retired Amicus/Unite General Secretary Derek Simpson who you believe should have done more arising from your correspondence in 2005/2006.

As you point out Mr Simpson is now retired. The union has no capacity to secure Mr Simpson's cooperation in an investigation. The union recently reviewed Mr Simpson's post retirement benefits, which were subsequently adjusted to the extent that this was possible.

I empathise with your frustration however do assure you that Unite now gives priority to representing members known to be Blacklisted and is proactively working to achieve better law.

Kind regards

Gail Cartmail


Outgoing

Dear Gail

Thank you for your letter dated 20 February 2012.

I think you may have misunderstood the context of what I was asking you to do, so I will put this in much clearer terms. I am asking you to investigate this matter because this does not appear to be a 'wasted opportunity' as you put it, but more a case of a General Secretary of a major union deliberately withholding evidence that could have exposed and ended the blacklisting of its members some three years earlier.

I put it to you that this evidence was deliberately withheld to protect the financial relationship between the union and these employers in the hope that this would simply go away. The odds were stacked against me at the time as I had no income and was up against a major PLC with unlimited legal resources. This matter cost me in the region of fifty thousand pounds to expose (on which I have to pay significant interest payments each year for money borrowed), which could have been avoided had the union taken immediate action with the evidence in their possession. Mr Simpson had every power to override the minimum timescale required to support a Tribunal, so have you any idea how insulting 'a wasted opportunity' appears considering the ramifications of his inaction?

Your comments that I believe Mr Simpson 'should have done more' implies he did something. It appears that he did absolutely nothing, which could have resulted in this never being exposed had Mr Clancy not picked up on this in 2009.

Your comments that 'the union has no capacity to secure Mr Simpson's cooperation in an investigation' should not prevent you from investigating this. I'm aware that Mr Simpson has retired, which is why I suggested you start with Micky Tuff and work upwards. You could at the very least speak to Mr Tuff and write to Mr Simpson for a response.

I note your comments about the current contribution from the union, but this is simply too little too late and is perceived by some I speak to as just jumping on the bandwagon. I put it to you again that these people are at the very least owed an explanation and an apology of why a major union of which many were members did nothing to help them at the time.

I am asking you to specifically focus on why the union withdrew their support of my attempt to expose the Blacklisting, after encouraging me to renew my membership, and why Derek Simpson specifically withheld the evidence in 2006 and did absolutely nothing with this.

Many people underestimated my resolve to get to the bottom of and expose the Blacklisting between 2005 and 2009 and I can assure you that my priority is now primarily focused to expose exactly what went on in the union at the time. I therefore do hope you take this opportunity to get involved and cooperate.

Could you please also provide me with copies of the responses from Mr Simpson in relation to my letters dated 19 June 2006, 5 July 2006 and 6 July 2006, as I'm currently unable to locate these?

Yours sincerely

Alan Wainwright

Incoming

Dear Alan

I apologise for not acknowledging your letter of 2 March.

I regret that you are dissatisfied with my response as I have done my best to explain the Union's position.

I will pass your request for copies of the correspondence to the General Secretary's office.

Yours sincerely

Gail Cartmail