Campaign news

No more Blacklisting.

3rd December 2013

No more Blacklisting.
Make the culprits Own Up! Pay Up! Clean Up!

On November 20th there was a successful day of action all over the country against the blacklist.

For over 20 years employers in the construction industry used secret files to vet new recruits and keep out trade union and health and safety activists. This scandal of blacklisting came to light in March 2009 when the Information Commissioner’s Office raided the offices of the Consulting Association and exposed the existence of a blacklist containing the details of 3,213 construction workers. They also found that the blacklist had been used by over 40 UK construction companies.

Over four years have passed since 44 construction companies were exposed as blacklisters following a raid on the Consulting Association by the Information Commissioner. The raid followed a tip off two years earlier than the company had been keeping secret files illegally for over 16 years. Yet even now, most of the 3,213 blacklisted construction workers and environmentalists are still unaware they have been blacklisted as they have not been contacted. Nor has a penny been paid to any of the victims. That is why the TUC, along with the GMB, Ucatt and Unite unions, and the Blacklist Support Group, called a day of action against blacklisting.

The aim is to get the industry to “Own Up, Clean Up, Pay Up”

Own up: The companies involved must ‘Own Up’ and accept responsibility for what they have done in the past
Clean up: They also need to ‘Clean Up’ and ensure that it does not happen again by having transparent recruitment procedures that are agreed with tread unions and properly monitored
Pay up: Then they must ‘Pay Up’ and compensate all those who have suffered as a result of their actions. Many of those who were blacklisted were unable to work in the industry again had years of unemployment. They deserve compensation.

Even when the ICO seized the files from the consultancy agency that revealed the 3,213 in the building industry, they chose not to take the information that was available about the blacklisting in other industries ‘because they hadn’t been told to’.

The blacklisting affair is now at the High Court. The blacklist compensation scheme offered by the blacklisting employers is designed to silence people at the cheapest cost. The Blacklist Support Group denounces the deal.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has suspended sending letters to individuals whose names appear on the Consulting Association database, following a complaint by the Blacklist Support Group (BSG) sent to the Deputy Commissioner at the ICO. The BSG complaint condemns the actions of the ICO and describes how “From being the champions of blacklisted workers, the ICO is now a barrier in our path to achieve justice”.

The dispute follows the announcement that five years after seizing the blacklist, the ICO are now finally sending letters to 1,200 individuals where they hold addresses and national insurance numbers, something activists and unions have argued for all along. The ICO letter has however been condemned by victims and unions alike as its letter directs these workers, who in many cases have no idea that their name appears on the Consulting Association database, to the blacklist compensation scheme set up by the very companies who blacklisted them in the first place. The BSG complaint describes this as “like sending the victims of crime to the criminals to receive justice”.

Dave Smith - secretary BSG said: “While we are glad that the ICO has finally decided to place details of the Blacklist Support Group on its website and in any future correspondence with blacklisted workers, our criticism of the ICO letter directing victims to the employers’ scheme however still stands. Anyone who is tempted to visit this scheme prior to having received full legal advice or guidance of alternative options will be in severe danger of forfeiting their rights and is likely to receive a massively reduced level of compensation”.

The first set of talks relating to the compensation scheme ended early when the BSG negotiation team walked out in disgust at the ‘insulting’ £1,000 offer made by the blacklisting firms. The employer’s blacklist compensation scheme is widely viewed as a publicity stunt to deflect attention from the blacklisting High Court claim for ‘unlawful conspiracy’ being brought by Guney, Clark & Ryan solicitors and supported by the BSG.

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