Labour leaves blacklisted high and dry

Construction workers like blacklisted bricklayer turned union full-timer Mick Dooley – whose human rights have been traduced by a practice revealed by their files to have been going on since the 1970s – have been left empty-handed, denied any compensation for the losses they have suffered at the hands of the construction companies, according to labour law expert Professor Keith Ewing.

Writing in The Guardian, Prof Ewing noted: “In the absence of a right not to be blacklisted, Dooley argued that he had been the victim of anti-union discrimination. A London employment tribunal has held against him, on the ground that he does not qualify under the legislation. Even if he did, like other workers in the same position the problems of proof would not be easy to overcome (for obvious reasons).”

The Kings College London academic indicates that part of the problem arises because Labour has only just introduced anti-blacklisting regulations. “But they are woefully inadequate. Not only do they fail to make blacklisting an offence, but they also fail to make blacklisting unlawful.”

He adds: “The biggest failure of the regulations, however, is the government’s failure to take steps to compensate the victims of blacklisting, who will now have to pursue a claim to the European court of human rights…”

He contrasts Labour’s inaction and weak laws on union victimisation with the action by Margaret Thatcher when she came to power. Anti-union laws curbed the power of unions  and a retroactive scheme was introduced to compensate workers dismissed because of union non-membership.

“If the Tories can compensate at public expense workers who suffered loss because of their non-membership of a trade union, then surely a Labour government could have done the same on behalf of workers whose lives have been blighted because of their membership of a trade union, and participation in its activities. Next stop Strasbourg, it seems.”

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