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Blacklisted construction worker sacked after making complaints about safety on site

A VETERAN activist against worker blacklisting has been sacked from his job as an electrical contractor after raising safety concerns, campaigners said today.

Lee Fowler, who has fought for workers’ health and safety for more than 30 years, was dismissed by contractor Bilfinger after he warned about working conditions at food production firm Cargill’s refinery site in Merseyside, the Blacklist Support Group said. 

The Unite union member also helped four co-workers win a pay boost before his sacking, said the group, which described Mr Fowler as one of its “leading members,” having first been blacklisted after becoming an offshore oil safety rep in the early 1990s. 

Mr Fowler said: “I got the four lads a 14 per cent pay rise and I raised health and safety concerns about the site.

“I was involved in a serious accident myself and the subsequent report found no blame on my part whatsoever.

“I have repeatedly asked to see the safety documents relating to my accident and that request has been repeatedly denied.

“And for that I was dismissed? I have fought for workers’ health and safety for over 30 years — they won’t silence me!”

In a joint statement, Unite executive council members Frank Morris and Tony Seaman said: "It is really disappointing that, in 2023, we continue to see workers raising genuine safety concerns being targeted.

“Despite all that was promised by major contractors in the High Court, this issue continues to blight our members’ lives.

“Blacklisting is one of the reasons that the sector has such a horrendous safety record.

“We cannot stand by and watch union members be repeatedly victimised — an injury to one is an injury to all.”

Leading construction firms issued a formal apology and paid out millions of pounds in compensation in 2016 following a landmark ruling that bosses had put hundreds of workers on an illegal blacklist to deny them work for years.

The Blacklist Support Group called for those raising safety concerns to be “applauded.”

In a Facebook post, it said: “The construction industry has glossy posters that encourage workers to speak out, but time and again, workers who are conscientious about safety get sacked.

“Get your banners ready — another blacklisting dispute is about to kick off.”

Bilfinger was contacted for comment.

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