Scourge of trade unionist blacklisting

The Morning Star has featured members of the Blacklist Support Group in an article highly critical of the government’s proposed legislation.

Keith Ewing, professor of public law at King’s College London, writes “this belated gesture – to implement a power first contained in the Employment Relations Act 1999 – does not go nearly far enough. Blacklisted workers might also want to know why their files were shown to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.”

He adds: “Any regulations introduced by the government must provide a retroactive compensation scheme for the people on the Consulting Association’s blacklist, funded by a special levy imposed on companies known to have used the lists.

“The law must clearly lay down that keeping and using blacklists is a criminal offence. Anyone appearing on a blacklist should be entitled to a minimum award of compensation without the need to establish loss but with compensation being increased where loss is established.”

The article concludes: “There should be no argument – being blacklisted is a violation of internationally protected human rights, running a blacklist should be an offence and being blacklisted should be enough to establish a right to compensation.”

Blacklist Support Group meeting details, 6 October

Blacklist Support Group meeting details, 6 October
6pm Tues 6th October 2009
Venue: No 1. Parliament Square (next to Portcullis House / adjacent to Westminster tube) – it will be signposted.
As far as possible we hope to make this a campaign update & organising meeting rather than a standard public meeting with lots of top table speeches and only a short time for Q&A at the very end.
Whilst journalists & supporters will be welcome to attend the meeting, it would be polite to allow most questions & discussion from the workers affected by the blacklisting.

Proposed Agenda
1. Apologies
2. Background to the Consulting Association blacklisting
David Clancy (Information Commissioners Office)
Steve & Colin (Manchester electricians)
3. ET claims updates / Victimisation & Human Rights issues
Professor Keith Ewing – author of Ruined Lives: Institute of Employment Rights report into blacklisting
Mick & Phil (both blacklisted workers have already completed Pre-Hearing Reviews)
4. Proposed Regulations – parliamentary progress
John McDonnell MP
5. Data Protection Claims
Sean Curran (Guney Clark Ryan solicitors)
6. Future press / future activities
7. Any other business

Blacklist Support Group

BSG backs UCATT blacklisting campaign

Blacklist Support Group statement

“The newly launched UCATT poster campaign to inform every building worker who appears on the blacklist is much needed. We want every blacklisted worker to have access to their file. The whole process would of course be made a lot easier if the Information Commissioner sent a letter directly to the home addresses of the workers on the blacklist file.

“As a support group representing blacklisted building workers from various diffrent unions, some of our members have had their working lives ruined by the illegal blacklisting operations of the major contractors.

“The vast majority of the over 3,000 workers on the blacklist still do not even realise that the blacklist exists, let alone that they are on it and have been denied employment because of it. So the UCATT campaign poster stuck up in building site canteens is good publicity.
Continue reading “BSG backs UCATT blacklisting campaign”

Blacklist Support Group House of Commons meeting

House of Commons meeting

6pm Tues 6 October 2009
House of Commons

 Speakers include:
* John McDonnell MP
Prof. Keith Ewing (author of Ruined Lives: Institute of Employment Rights report on blacklisting)
* David Clancy invited (Head of Information Commissioners Office Investigation team)
* Sean Curran (solicitor taking data protection cases)
* Blacklisted building workers

Blacklist Support Group

Blacklist protest at O’Rourke site

Building workers who claim they are being denied jobs because of an illegal blacklist have protested outside a £350m shopping development. The men believe their union activities are being used against them by firms involved in the Rock Triangle project in Bury, Greater Manchester, trade paper Contract Journal reports. They were among 3,213 workers named on an illegal database which was exposed in court last month.

 Laing O’Rourke, main contractor at the site, has denied the claims. Following the 27 August protest, a spokesperson told the BBC: “We do not discriminate against any individuals for any reason in their employment and that is the clear policy across all our business units.”  See BBC video clip

Continue reading “Blacklist protest at O’Rourke site”

Britain: Electricians protest against blacklist

Blacklist Support Group
PRESS RELEASE:  Electricians picket against the blacklist

On the 27th, August 2009; the Greater Manchester ‘Campaign against the Blacklist’ is organising a protest picket on the Rock Project in Bury, Lancashire, Continue reading “Britain: Electricians protest against blacklist”

Blacklisted workers demand ‘strongest legislation’

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.”
Continue reading “Blacklisted workers demand ‘strongest legislation’”

All fired up

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.”

 Read the full Hazards magazine story and Dave Smith interview.

Who needs a blacklist blog?

OrganiseWhen the Information Commissioner discovered a Droitwich company held a blacklist on over 3,000 construction workers, it acted promptly.

The Consulting Association was shut down, key figure Ian Kerr was prosecuted and fined £5,000, workers who believed they had been blacklisted could apply to receive their files and the government promised a new law.

 Two other things soon became apparent, though. The major construction firms that bankrolled the covert blacklisting operation on trade unionists would escape prosecution. And The Consulting Association had been operating in one guise or another for decades before Kerr faced the courts.

Hazards magazine’s ‘blacklist blog’ is tracking developments on the story – it’s a health and safety story because union health and safety activity or even concern appears to be a fast track to blacklisting, with union safety rep credentials a regular feature in blacklist dossiers.

 Hazards is also concerned that other seemingly legitimate outfits – management consultants and law firms, for example – may be providing blacklisting advice as part of “union avoidance” services. And it believes that while the emphasis has been on victimisation of trade unionists in the construction sector, blacklisting is almost certainly prevalent in other sectors.

The blacklist blog tracks legal and campaign developments – so you can see what his happening and see why it is crucial to make a stand.

Britain: Workers unite against construction blacklist

organiseA new support group for blacklisted construction workers has pledged to continue its campaign against the practice. Dave Smith, 44, who is part of the new Blacklist Support Group said: “Our agenda now is to keep this issue live, to make sure that big companies are not allowed to flout the law.”

He added: “Building workers have now agreed to set up their own support group after we met with John McDonnell in the House of Commons. Many people on the list are now taking actions and we will be putting pressure on politicians to put through new legislation so this can’t happen again.” 

Smith told the Irish Post: “This is still going on today. And if you can’t complain about the most basic rights, then there is a problem. Some people have had their lives destroyed by this blacklist and we see what we’re doing now as equality for all building workers.”

The group has also said they plan to investigate the prospects of a potential class-action civil claim and human rights cases as well as “the exposing the illegal practices of the major construction firms involved in blacklisting”.