5 February 2015
The Court of Appeal is ruling on whether the blacklisting of engineer Dave Smith was a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights (EHCR).
Smith is being represented by IER chair John Hendy QC, and David Renton. They argue that blacklisting is a breach of Article 8 & 11 of the ECHR.
Smith’s employers Carillion (JM) Ltd have admitted that managers supplied information on Smith to the Consulting Association blacklist, due to his activities as a safety rep for UCATT.
He lost his employment tribunal claim in 2012, on the grounds that he was not working directly for the company, but was employed through an employment agency. The deeply unfair nature of the outcome was acknowledged in the ruling; “We have reached our conclusions with considerable reluctance. It seems to us that he has suffered a genuine injustice and we greatly regret that the law provides him with no remedy.”
If the court rules that the blacklisting was a breach of the EHCR, and Smith was not protected by UK law, then the UK law itself is not compatible with the EHCR. A “declaration of non-compatibility” will be issued, and the UK Government would be required to amend statutory legislation.
The UK government has joined the case as an “intervener”, arguing that the court should not issue a declaration of non-compatibility.
John Hendy QC and David Renton responded; “The European Convention is to be considered in the light of the fact that it was drawn up in the aftermath of the Second World War to prevent in future the development of totalitarian regimes such as that of Nazi Germany by forestalling the incremental abuses of human rights which lead such regimes ultimately to the grotesque atrocities for which they are responsible. Blacklisting of workers was precisely one of the early abuses by which the Nazis suppressed opposition to their rule from the labour and trade union movement”.
The IER has published a book on blacklisting by Prof. Keith Ewing, Ruined Lives: Blacklisting in the Construction Industry, commissioned by UCATT. Read the IER’s briefing on blacklisting here
The IER has published experts’ analysis on what withdrawal from particular articles of the EHCR would mean for employment rights. Read them here:
Article 4: Prohibition of slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour
Article 8: Right to respect for private and family life
Article 10: Right to freedom of expression
Article 14: Prohibition of discrimination