When a private investigator was fined £5,000 for running an illegal blacklist of over 3,000 construction workers, the real villains escaped justice. The construction industry’s major names had bankrolled and directed The Consulting Association, which in turn told them to steer clear of union activists – particularly those like Dave Smith who had made a stand on safety.
Dave Smith believes construction sites should be safe. He’s been fired several times and has faced years of hardship for saying so. Dave is one of the 3,213 construction workers the Information Commissioner disclosed in March 2009 were listed on an illegal blacklisting database.
He knows he was listed for safety reasons. That’s made crystal clear in the 36-page dossier bearing his name seized by the Information Commissioner in a February 2009 raid on blacklisting outfit The Consulting Association.
“Everything in my file relates to safety – page after page of concerns about asbestos, near fatal accidents, god awful toilet facilities,” Dave told Hazards. “If I discussed it with a site agent, it ended up in my file. Even my UCATT safety reps’ credentials were on the file.” Raise safety concerns and “you were sacked and then hounded out of the industry,” he said.
This wasn’t a minor inconvenience, it was a fast track to poverty. “My kids were on milk tokens. I am a qualified and experienced engineer but during one of the biggest building booms this country has ever known, with the industry crying out for skilled workers, I couldn’t get a start.”