from the Blacklist Support Group:
The Blacklist Support Group (a network of building workers blacklisted in the Consulting Association scandal) has filed a submission to the consultation process for the proposed new Blacklisting Regulations.
The full consultation closes on Tues 18th August (it is being fast-tracked, as the Regulations have been “on the books” since 1999 but were never turned into law by the Secretary of State because of intense business lobbying during a 2003 consultation process).
John McDonnell MP (who has been championing the cause of the blacklisted construction workers in parliament) said:
“Only the strongest legislation will be able to protect workers from the scandal of blacklisting. That is why we are calling on the government for tough action.”
The key elements of the Blacklist Support Group submission are:
- Make the Regulation retrospective – The major blacklisting employers, now caught red handed, had an input into the original consultation process through their Trade Associations. This delayed the implementation of the Regulations by many years. This exceptional situation should allow for the Regulations to be retrospective.
- Regulations should cover all workers who stand up for their rights or raise concerns about health & safety – not just trade unionists involved in “official action”
- Blacklisting should be a criminal offence with fines and jail sentences as a potential penalty
- Companies found guilty of blacklisting should be debarred from bidding for publicly funded projects (The World Bank already has a similar sanction for companies found guilty of bribery & corruption)
- Enhance the role of the Information Commissioner to allow for pro-active investigations of potential blacklisting companies and to rigorously prosecute offenders.
- Recognise the variety of employment relations in 2008 – The major contractors who operated the Consulting Association blacklist rarely directly employ any skilled workers themselves but instead applied covert pressure to sub-contractors and Employment Agencies to remove individuals from site. As the workers have not been explicitly refused work by the main contractors; the guilty parties often get away scot free at a Tribunal. This loophole needs to be closed.
- Blacklisting trade unionists is a Human Rights issue – Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights grants “everyone the right to Freedom of Association and Assembly with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.” The ECHR became UK law in the Human Rights Act. Article 11 is not only limited to direct employees or to those individuals seeking to gain employment directly with the blacklisting companies but to “everyone”. The sole purpose of the data-base administered by The Consulting Association on behalf of the major building contractors was to blacklist trade union members and prevent them from gaining employment within the industry and was a deliberate and systematic breach of Article 11 of ECHR. It is a clear breach of the human rights to freedom of assembly and association for every individual on the database.
- A legal mechanism similar to “Automatic Unfair Dismissal” should be introduced for any company found to operate the blacklist. To make Employment Tribunal cases less daunting for the claimant.
- A Special Award of £10,000 for successful claimants at Employment Tribunals should be introduced in blacklisting cases to act as a deterrent. (In addition to the standard compensation for loss of earnings).
The full submission document from the Blacklist Support Group is attached
for any interviews with blacklisted building workers, please contact:
Blacklist Support Group