Unite’s blacklisting battles continue

Unite the UnionThe Unite union is continuing its battle against the practice of big employers blacklisting construction workers, a year after securing a “historic” High Court victory.

The High Court case concerning the blacklisting of workers by the Consulting Association, which involved the majority of the main construction companies operating in the UK, resulted in Unite winning £20 million for 400 members that it represented.

Since then, Unite has been compiling a dossier on contemporary blacklisting. Its dossier includes potential cases of blacklisting on major flagship projects. The union suspects that employment agencies, responsible for most on site recruitment, may be operating their own blacklists.

Unite has asked the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which is responsible for data privacy and conducted the original 2009 bust on the Consulting Association, to re-open its investigation into blacklisting. The ICO has indicated that it will launch a new call for evidence on blacklisting but this will not begin until at least 2018.

Unite assistant general secretary for construction, Gail Cartmail, said: “A year after the High Court case into blacklisting ended, it is all too obvious that the blacklisting of construction workers is still occurring. Despite blacklisting being a nasty secretive practice, Unite has been able to compile a dossier of these abuses.

“This is why it is imperative that the ICO re-opens its investigation into blacklisting in order for these practices to be fully exposed and action taken. These injustices will continue unchecked if as feared the ICO kicks blacklisting into the long grass and doesn’t even begin to seek evidence until 2018.”

As part of the High Court case the blacklisting companies agreed to provide re-training for their victims who wanted to return to the industry but who needed their skills and qualifications to be updated, in order to find work. Twelve months since the ending of the High Court case and not one of the blacklisted victims has received any of the training they were promised, Unite says

Gail Cartmail added: “The blacklisters are showing contempt for the legal system and are exploiting loopholes, proving that they have not learnt anything from this scandal as they continue to delay and prevaricate in providing the training they are required to provide for their victims.

“The cost of the re-training is loose change for these huge companies but for the workers themselves it is their only opportunity to re-join their industry and properly provide for themselves and their families.”

Despite the High Court case being completed a year ago, victims of the Consulting Association blacklist are continuing to come forward. Unite are in the process of beginning a fresh court case where they will be representing over 60 members.

Unite continues to argue for a full public inquiry into the affair.

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