Blacklist Support Group secretary Dave Smith was arrested on the peaceful protest of 40 construction workers and their supporters outside the Construction News Awards in the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane on last night. The protestors, who had a token stopping of the traffic, were highlighting the disgraceful sacking of workers on the Crossrail project for raising health and safety concerns. For example, this happened at Whitechapel where workers were ‘let go’ because they wanted torches attached to their helmets, yet days later 13 workers had falls because it was too dark! After a protest there on February 23rd there was a vigil outside St Pancras Coroner’s Court as there was an inquest into the tragic death last year of Crossrail worker Rene Tkacik. Over the last month there have been numerous protests with thousands of leaflets given out explaining that Crossrail is the biggest public sector project in Western Europe costing £15billion, which is putting £millions of profits into the pockets of the construction companies yet workers are treated like dirt!
On Wednesday, the police were far more heavy-handed and we were suspicious that they looked like they were singling out Dave. His new book ‘Blacklisted’ has exposed the role of ‘Spy-Cops’, where undercover police infiltrated protest groups of construction workers and anti-racist campaigners. The book also reveals the incredible extent of how the building companies illegally blacklisted workers, particularly in construction , often for the very ‘crime’ of making the sites safe. Scandalously, Dave this week lost a test case because he was employed by an agency, yet that is actually one of the evils of the industry that keeps workers’ wages down. The police had promised protestors that Dave would be released from the police van as the protest had left the road but then drove him to Paddington Green station where he was detained for 6 hours before being released in the early hours of the morning. NNSN supporters went to the station, which closed at 6pm! There was a tremendous campaign on social media and supporters phoning the police station. He was eventually charged with obstructing the highway.
As Dave himself said on release, ““A massive ‘Thank You’ for all the solidarity and support tonight. When multinational construction firms sack our safety reps and collude with the police to blacklist union members, they get away scot free. But if we protest about it, we get arrested.”
There is a protest in support of Dave Smith this Friday outside Marylebone Magistrates Court 181 Marylebone Road NW1 5QJ – assemble at 8am, the case starts at 9am. Before then the campaign to get the Crossrail workers reinstated continues with protests tonight outside the Mayor of London Question Time from 6pm in the Dominion Centre, Wood Green in Haringey and on Friday outside the Bond Street Crossrail site from 5.30pm.
See ReelNews video of protest and Dave’s arrest here
See ReelNews video trailer of the book ‘Blacklisted’ here