Blacklist Public Meeting Report

Blacklist Public Meeting Report

In November 2015 a very successful meeting was held in Birmingham City Centre on Blacklisting in the Construction Industry. The two main speakers where Dave Smith Secretary of the Blacklist support group and Frank Keogh an official from the trade union Unite.

Dave Smith has been at the forefront of the campaign to expose the loathsome and illegal practice of blacklisting of employees for trade union and political activities for many years. Dave had just published a book which lifts the lid on blacklisting and on the decades of denials, lies and deceit by construction employers over the shameful treatment and damage to thousands of workers. Dave Smith told the meeting that, in 2009, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) exposed details of a large-scale surveillance operation run by a company called The Consulting Association. This company collated files on thousands of construction workers, as well as academics and journalists, and sold the information to 44 construction companies. The Director of the Consulting Association, Ian Kerr, was fined just £5,000 and all 44 companies escaped without penalty or punishment.

Many of these workers had their lives ruined, unable to find employment in the construction industry, blacklisted for their trade union activities or for raising health and safety concerns. A recent court case revealed that the police and security services may have been complicit in the Consulting Association’s activities and in October 2012, the ICO admitted to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee that they had seized only 5 - 10% of the files held by The Consulting Association.

Companies guilty of blacklisting, he stated, must be barred from tendering for publicly procured contracts and compensation must be paid retrospectively to all victims of blacklisting for loss of earnings.

The existing blacklisting regulations offer no protection. It must be a criminal offence to supply, compile, solicit or use information in connection with a prohibited list. The blacklisting of workers must no longer be part of our society. Dave outlined that after years of denial the companies finally admitted that they did it. However, it is now time for the employers to give the victims proper justice and pay them the compensation they deserve. These employers must be made to pay the price for their outrageous behavior towards their fellow citizens.

Frank Keogh spoke on UNITE’s belief that blacklisting is abhorrent and that those responsible for blacklisting should be subject to the maximum possible criminal penalties. Those companies found to be actively involved in blacklisting should also be excluded from public contracts. He said that Unite will continue to actively expose blacklisting and support any member who believes they are being actively discriminated against simply for belonging to a trade union.

The meeting was then opened up to those present and included many heart-rendering contributions from people who had also found themselves blacklisted in the construction industry and the price themselves and their families had paid in being blacklisted from employment opportunities.

At the end of the meeting Dave Smith signed copies of his excellent book Blacklisted. 

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