Sunday, December 16, 2012

Why his victims think it's a pity he has died just now

THIS is Ian Kerr, chief executive of the Consulting Association, and blacklister of trade unionists and environmental campaigners, ever since he went to work for the notorious Economic League back in 1969.  

His dedicated work for big companies like Sir Robert McAlpine, Balfour Beatty, Carillion and Skanska made sure that many building workers in particular found themselves unable to get employment for long periods. Big sites like the Olympic park and now, it is revealed, the BBC site in Salford, were closed to them. Their families went short, and all because at some point they had tried to organise fellow workers or raised concerns about safety conditions on site.

For Ian Kerr it brought a £50,000 a year salary, plus bonus, BUPA medical insurance and a Mercedes company car lifestyle.

Then in 2009 the Consulting Association premises in the Midlands were raided, files were taken away, and Kerr was prosecuted under the Data Protection law. Many of those who were on the files have been able to see for themselves and confirm what they may have suspected. But only a small proportion of the files have been seen.

At a recent appearance at the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, Kerr was unrepentant about his dirty work, which included spying on trade unionists and environmental actvists, but clearly reluctant to name big company directors with whom he worked. He was reportedly due to provide a written statement about these names.

Then on Tuesday last week it was reported that he had died. A lot of people made clear they would not be mourning him, to put it mildly, and might even dance or piss on his grave.

"The Blacklist Support Group will not be donating to his collection," said a spokesperson for that campaigning group..

But at the same, some activists and people who had suffered the effects of Kerr's blacklisting activities were regretting that the man who persecuted them had been snatched away just when he was due to answer more questions about his activities, and about those who paid for his services.

"Does no-one else think its a bit dodgy that he dies just after giving evidence to the Select Committee and just before he was meant to supply a written statement naming names?", asked one member of the Blacklist Support Group on Facebook.

Another, reminding us that it wasnot only private companies that worked with Kerr, asked darkly:
"Is anyone thinking it's a little strange that Kerr has died, at a point where so many including government agencies were looking to be fingered in this case? And haven't these Gov agencies got form for this sort of silencing?"

Meanwhile a worker remained seriously ill in hospital with burns sustained in an explosion when a live cable was hit on the Crossrail project in London. Several trade unionists have been campaigning against alleged victimisation on Crossrail after they raised safety concerns, particularly about exposed cables. Unite the union has called for an investigation at Crossrail, including of links between management and the anti-union Consulting Association. 

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