Labour forces debate on preventing blacklisting of workers
Labour will call for action to stop the blacklisting of workers and a full investigation of blacklisting allegations, including in relation to major public projects such as Crossrail and the Olympic Park in a House of Commons opposition day debate next week.
Secret files on thousands of workers in the construction sector resulted in people being denied employment and their livelihoods after raising legitimate health and safety concerns or exercising their human right to belong to a trade union, and were used by more than 40 of the UK’s largest construction firms. This week, construction firm Balfour Beatty confirmed that it conducted blacklisting checks on individuals seeking work on construction of Olympic venues.
Many of those affected still have no idea that they were included on the secret construction blacklist which was uncovered by the Information Commissioner’s Office in a raid in 2009. Questions remain on why the ICO did not seize other documents found at the scene. In next week’s debate, Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna will call for the Information Commissioner to adopt a proactive process for informing individual victims of blacklisting so that they can seek compensation.
Labour’s motion asks the Government to examine whether further changes are needed to ensure that appropriate, effective sanctions are in place to tackle and prevent blacklisting.
Recent evidence which has emerged as part of a Scottish Affairs Committee Parliamentary inquiry into blacklisting in employment has brought forward allegations of widespread use of blacklists in relation to major public sector construction projects and that intelligence used to compile blacklists came from police officers and the security services, as well as revealing the existence of a further blacklist of environmental activists.
Chuka Umunna MP, Labour's Shadow Business Secretary, commenting said:
“Blacklisting is a national scandal. Workers have had their livelihoods destroyed, their reputations tarnished and in some cases their families torn apart just because they raised health and safety concerns or were a member of a trade union. And the further tragedy is that many of those affected have no idea that they have been blacklisted.
“As well as investigating blacklisting allegations in full, including those relating to public construction projects, Ministers need to look again at what changes need to be made to ensure blacklisting is prevented and that this scandal is never repeated again.”