European action demanded on blacklisting

Labour MEP Glenis Willmott is demanding a clearer commitment from Euro bosses on the issue of blacklisting of workers.

The East Midlands MEP has given a cautious welcome to a confirmation from the European Commission that, as part of its upcoming review of health and safety legislation, it will ensure that EU law is being followed and that workers’ health and safety reps are not being put at a disadvantage by employers.

However, Willmott, who is Labour’s leader in Europe, has called for a positive statement that the Commission will specifically address the issue of blacklisting. “The practice of ‘blacklisting’ – where workers may be refused employment by employers across the whole sector – still exists,” she said. “The EU Commissioner for Employment, László Andor, admitted in an earlier answer to me that the Commission is aware that some employers continue to blacklist workers.”

By 2015, the European Commission must carry out a review of the implementation of EU health and safety legislation across member states. In a parliamentary question, Willmott asked the Commission to confirm whether this review would look at blacklisting of workers’ health and safety reps, a practice which is illegal under EU law.

“Commissioner Andor confirms that the review will address the issue of protection for trade unionists and workforce representatives who deal with health and safety on behalf of their colleagues,” she said. “He also confirms that if the review does find that blacklisting remains a problem, then the Commission will ensure that national governments apply ‘dissuasive, effective and proportionate penalties’ to infringers.

“However, the Commissioner still leaves himself room to backtrack on whether the review will look specifically at the extent of blacklisting in EU countries. Given the abuses we have seen recently, I want an absolute commitment from the Commission that they will do all in their power to outlaw entirely the blacklisting of workers whose only crime has been to defend the safety of their colleagues in the workplace.”

The Labour MEP originally took up the issue of blacklisting on behalf of a constituent and member of the building trades union UCATT and has made some headway. The first hopeful signs emerged when Willmott and Labour MEP colleague Stephen Hughes joined a delegation from the grassroots Blacklist Support Group in a “very positive” 30 June 2011 meeting with EU employment commissioner László Andor.

At the end of 2011, the European Parliament demanded an end to the blacklisting of employees through tougher sanctions on offending employers.

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