Campaigners launch protests against blacklist Britain
ADDISON LEE cycle courier Andrew Boxer has been sacked for taking a claim to an employment tribunal, his union reported yesterday, as hundreds of blacklisted workers took to the streets across Britain to demand justice.
Campaigners said video footage broadcast last night proved that the targeting of trade union activists was alive and well in the British workplace.
Mr Boxer was fired on his first day of work after having already been given a radio, a call-sign and logins for the company’s courier app.
But, according to his union, when senior managers were alerted that he had been hired, he was sacked.
Mr Boxer won a high-profile employment rights case earlier this year against courier company Excel, which has since been taken over by CitySprint.
In a recording of a meeting with Addison Lee courier chief Kevin Valentine, Mr Boxer is told that he cannot work for the company because it is already employing another worker who is taking it to a tribunal.
Mr Valentine asked: “Is there an ulterior motive that you want to work here? Do you want to report back to the union?”
Later on, Mr Boxer said: “Basically, you are just saying that because I have taken another company to court you don’t want me?”
Mr Valentine replied: “We can’t have two … it costs the company a fortune. If we’ve got to fight you, we’ve got to fight [Chris] Gascoigne, at the end of the day …”
Mr Gascoigne won an employment rights case against Addison Lee earlier this year, which the company is appealing against.
The tribunal ruled that Mr Gascoigne was a worker and not self-employed. Mr Valentine reportedly admitted to Mr Boxer that the appeal would be won by the union. Both workers are members of the Independent Workers union of Great Britain (IWGB).
IWGB general secretary Jason Moyer-Lee said: “Addison Lee has once again shown the unlawful extremes to which it is prepared to go in order to deny basic rights to its low-paid workers.”
A spokesman for Addison Lee said the company “is committed to fair and respectful treatment of all its contractors. Mr Boxer has never made a formal complaint to us. We are now reviewing the matter and it would be wrong to comment further until that review is complete.”
Blacklisted workers rallied outside Parliament yesterday in support of a public inquiry into the practice. Systemic blacklisting in the construction industry was uncovered by a raid on the secretive Consulting Association in 2009.
Workers are also furious that Sir Robert McAlpine, a member of the Consulting Association, has been awarded the contract for the refurbishment of Big Ben.
The rally outside Parliament was one of a number of demonstrations organised by union Unite, as part of an anti-blacklisting day of action. Protests took place in cities including Durham, Leeds, Brighton, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Birmingham and Nottingham.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The strength of this day of action proves that there is a united front of workers in support [of Unite’s campaign].
“We have the power to defeat blacklisting and the progressive political forces are on our side.”
Labour MPs including Ian Lavery, Dan Carden, Rachael Maskell and Rebecca Long Bailey joined the demo.
Midlothian MP Danielle Rowley said: “We have comrades outside the Scottish Parliament too. We’ve come out today to show our support and solidarity.”
Dan Dobson, an electrician from Crawley, said he was a victim of “contemporary blacklisting” as a result of his union activities.
The Consulting Association has not operated since the 2009 raid.
But Labour MP Chuka Umunna said in a parliamentary debate earlier this year that he could provide the government with evidence that the practice was still in use in the construction industry.
Mr Dobson, who has been backed by trade unions to stand as Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Crawley, Sussex, told the Star: “People need to go to prison.
“People’s lives have been ruined, families have been torn apart. A few quid in compensation isn’t enough.”