Construction blacklisting campaign goes global

Construction unions from around the world have backed proposals to stamp out blacklisting wherever it occurs. The decision was taken last week by the Building and Wood Workers International (BWI), the global federation of construction unions, at its conference in Lille, France.

The union representatives supported overwhelmingly an emergency motion proposed by UK site union UCATT. UCATT’s motion mandates the leadership of the BWI to “monitor any developments on blacklisting discovered in BWI affiliate countries” and, “assist unions in taking action where there are suspicions of a blacklist or where blacklisting practices have been confirmed.”

Alan Ritchie, general secretary of UCATT, said: “I am delighted that the BWI are committed to stamping out blacklisting wherever it exists. Blacklisting is a disgraceful, deceitful practice which ruins the lives of workers.”

UCATT says some of the companies involved in widespread blacklisting of construction trades unionists in the UK, uncovered by the Information Commissioner in February, are multinationals. It has emerged that many of these companies practice exemplary industrial relations policies in some countries, while undertaking entirely unethical practices in others.

The union says it has been working with construction unions in other countries to highlight abuses and pressure companies at an international level to amend their policies.

Anita Normark, the out-going BWI general secretary, said: “Blacklisting is an obscene anti-union practice used by unscrupulous companies all over the world to deprive workers of their rights and to rob trade unionists of their livelihood. We condemn blacklisting and believe that it should be punishable by law.”

Alan Ritchie added: “Having been at the forefront of the blacklisting scandal in the UK, UCATT are committed to assisting our sister unions in overcoming similar problems in their own countries.”