DWP’s Bennison “Crocodile Tears” Blacklist protest Leeds

22 Oct 2014

GMB “Crocodile Tears” Protest In Leeds On Wed 22nd October To Shame Valerie Bennison, Hr Manager At DWP, Linked To Blacklisting At Least 22 Workers

Managers like Valerie Bennison shedding crocodile tears now for her part in blacklisting 3,213 workers won’t wash, neither will the Nuremberg Defence of “just following superior orders” says GMB.

GMB held a protest demonstration in Leeds on Wednesday 22 October to shame Valerie Bennison, Human Resources Business Partner for Head Office Directorates and SCS at Child Maintenance Group part of Department for Work and Pensions for her part in blacklisting construction workers.

Blacklisting came to light when in 2009 the ICO seized a Consulting Association database, run by Ian Kerr, 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.

Valerie Bennison, was Human Resources Manager at Whessoe Oil and Gas Ltd from May 2004 till November 2007. She has yet to come clean and apologise for her part in the hurt and damage caused by her former employer Whessoe Oil & Gas who were involved in blacklisting at least 22 workers.

This was the second date in 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. See notes to editors 1 for the 10 dates in the first leg of a national tour and notes to editors 2 for the list the 63 managers and where they worked.

The protest was held at the DWP offices at Quarry House, Quarry Hill, Leeds.  At the protest 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”.  Pictures are available.

Valerie Bennison (VB) as Human Resources Manager was a contact for Whessoe Oil and Gas Ltd with the blacklisting body the Consulting Association.

These are some examples known to GMB about Whessoe Oil and Gas Ltd blacklisting activities:

·  GMB has evidence of queries to Valerie Bennison and her colleague from the Industrial Relations Administrator on the Whessoe-Volker Stevin JV Dragon LNG project in Milford Haven in West Wales asking her to do checks on     individuals. Between December 2005 and August 2006, 297 names were checked on this single project.

·  A Glaswegian welder put on the blacklist by Wimpey in 1977 was labelled as a troublemaker. 28 years later he applied for a job with Whessoe Oil and Gas Ltd. VB, despite being told that the file had a lack of detailed information     and stressing the date, did not employ him.

·  The Sales Ledger from The Consulting Associations shows that Whessoe Oil and Gas Ltd spent over £12,500 in the four years between 2005/06 and 2008/09 while Valerie Bennison was Human Resources Manager.

·  In 2006 there is an entry on the files saying 17 scaffolders were put on the blacklist by Ron Barron, Human Resources Manager at CB&I. The entry states ‘would not be considered by 3289 (Whessoe Oil & Gas) and 3290 (CB&I)    following problems at Texaco Refinery Site Milford Haven during w/c 16th October 2006.

On October 16th there was a hearing in the High Court on compensation for 122 GMB members blacklisted by Carillion and other construction employers on claims served in 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. The next hearing is 17th December

Talks between GMB and lawyers for Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI PLC on a compensation scheme broke down in June over the amount of money being put into the scheme. Employers have unilaterally launched a cut price scheme 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 and of these 570 cases are covered by claims in the High Court. 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, ‘Valerie Bennison and the rest might have thought they had got away scot-free, so 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 who ran the blacklists for the construction companies knew exactly what they were doing and 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.’