There should be a public inquiry into corrupt practices in the UK construction industry, workplace rights campaigners have said.
A packed 6 October meeting at the House of Commons heard the inquiry demand endorsed unanimously by MPs, leading human rights academics, barristers and blacklisted building workers.
The meeting was called by the Blacklist Support Group to discuss the recently exposed covert illegal blacklisting of trade unionists by major UK building firms. Ian Kerr of the Consulting Association (and formerly the Economic League) was fined £5,000 for his role in the blacklisting of trade unionists. So far, however, the 44 major construction firms have incurred no penalty or sanction.
Addressing the meeting, John McDonnell MP told the blacklisted workers: “This is one of the worst ever cases of organised abuses of human rights in the UK. I fully support your campaign for justice and I will be raising the issue of a public enquiry in parliament. There is already considerable support in the house.”
Keith Ewing, professor of public law at King’s College London, was highly critical of a the government’s proposed law to address blacklisting. “What is needed is an absolute legal tight not be be blacklisted, firm sanction against companies supplying information to the blacklist and financial compensation for every individual on the blacklist,” he told the meeting. “The proposed regulations as put out to consultation by BIS are so full of holes that they are hardly worth the paper they are printed on.”
Colin Trousdale, a blacklisted electrician from Manchester, said: “This is not something that went on in the past: the blacklist is still being used today. I am not interested in the money, I am interested in getting back to work. I am interested in justice.”
The Blacklist Support Group says it will continue its “campaign for justice for the blacklisted building workers by supporting the legal claims against the 44 major contractors, lobbying MPs for firm action and encouraging all 3,000 workers on the database to contact the Information Commissioner’s Office and access their own file.”
Blacklist Support Group