Dating back to the 1950s, two organisations - first the infamous Economic League, and later The Consulting Association – ran an illegal blacklist of people in the construction trade who dared to stand up on sites for things such as health and safety and fair pay.
Building companies paid thousands of pounds in subscriptions and search fees to check on trade union activities of employees, until, in 2009, The Consulting Association was shut down and its head, Ian Kerr was fined £5000 for breach of the Data Protection Act.
The list of construction firms connected to The Consulting Association reads like a who's who of the building trade…including Carillion, Balfour Beatty, Skanska, Costain, McAlpine and Tarmac. Indeed, even on the building sites of the Olympic stadiums the blacklist was used to vet staff.
Steve Acheson was on the national blacklist and in a short video (click here) is seen reading what the blacklist had to say about him … "Steve Acheson's other role, apart from becoming an anarchist is to travel the country addressing meetings."
It added that an official from the Polish Solidarity trade union was visiting sites "under Acheson's tutelage"…
In the film Acheson responds… "I've never met the chap in my life but it doesn't have to be accurate…"
Acheson is one of the most high profile and outspoken campaigners to get justice for those, like him, who had their living taken away by appearing on the blacklist.
"Steve started at MRI but was blacklisted off that job, before getting work at Fiddlers Ferry power station but within two days was blacklisted off that too" says George Tapp, from Salford Pensioners Association, and also an electrician by trade who blacklisted in his career.
"Steve held a one man picket at Fiddlers Ferry which resulted in him being charged under the Terrorism Act, which the judge, throwing the case out said was ` fanciful to the point of paranoia'" George adds "Without Steve's fight, the whole issue of blacklisting wouldn't have come out. As a result of being blacklisted though, Steve's had no wages or benefits for years and has been deprived of his living, so we need to raise him some money."
Organisations, including Salford Pensioners Association, have a arranged a special night at Saffron Restaurant in Cheetham Hill to be a Benefit for Steve Acheson. The night will include superb Eastern cuisine and entertainment.
Meanwhile, Salford Mayor, Ian Stewart, has apparently signed a declaration that no company found to be involved in blacklisting will be given contracts by Salford Council.
While this is to be applauded, questions have to be asked why the City Mayor, who has been pushing out propaganda by the day, did not put out an official press release about this?
And does the blacklisting of the blacklisters cover Council joint ventures and arm's length companies like Urban Vision, Salix and City West? Companies like Carillion and Balfour Beatty have been incredibly active in Salford recently around public sector linked projects. Indeed, the Council has been actively encouraging Salford people to work at Balfour Beatty as part of its Bridges To MediaCityUK partnership.
Time will tell whether the Mayor's gesture is genuine or not.
Steve Acheson Benefit - special guest speaker: Ken Loach
Friday 22nd March 7pm
The Old Town Hall
Cheetham Hill Road M8 8PY
£20 waged/£12 concessions
Bring own beer
Restaurant phone number: 0161 834 1222 – or click here
Further details on the campaign read the Blacklist Blog – click here
To see the Blacklist film, which includes Steve Acheson and Ricky Tomlinson talking about the blacklist and the Shrewsbury Pickets – click here