Only one person has been prosecuted for their criminal culpability in the blacklisting scandal, with not a single construction director behind the illegal operation having faced charges.
However, Ian Kerr, the former head of the Consulting Association – the industry financed organisation that spied on union and safety activists and provided the information to major site firms – has now been joined by award-winning human rights campaigner Dave Smith, as the focus of a prosecution.
Smith, a blacklisted worker and secretary of the Blacklist Support Group, was found guilty this week but discharged at the City of London magistrates’ court for disrupting traffic in Park Lane, London, in a blacklisting protest in March last year.
Commenting after his conviction, he said since the scandal erupted, “only two people have ever been convicted because of their involvement with blacklisting — Ian Kerr and me.” Smith was not fined but the offence will be held on his record for the next six months.
The Green Party this week came out in support of calls for a public inquiry into the practice of blacklisting trade unionists and campaigners. Outgoing Green leader Natalie Bennett said: “The time has come for a public inquiry into the shameful practice of blacklisting. It’s vital that those who were discriminated against, and the public, gain an understanding of how this information on suspected trade unionists was collected and how it was shared with prospective employers.”
Green Party member of the House of Lords Jenny Jones added that companies caught using blacklisting should not be left with the responsibility for ridding the industry of the practice.
“That’s why parliament must step up and kick-start a public inquiry into blacklisting,” the baroness said. “I’m also urging any worker who was discriminated in this way to speak to me about their experiences. I’ll do all that I can to take this forward in the Lords.”
- Road block: How blocking roads has become a great way of making employers change direction, Hazards, 2016.