The Socialist 24 October 2012
Defend the NHS
Construction blacklisting - the tip of the iceberg
Rob Williams, National Shop Stewards Network chair
The big construction companies could be facing thousands of financial claims as a legal battle has been launched by blacklisted workers.
In 2009, a blacklist was uncovered containing the names of over 3,000 workers, barred from the industry for the 'crime' of being trade unionists, campaigning for their members' rights and safety at work.
This was discovered when the legal regulator, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) raided the office of the shadowy Consulting Association.
This organisation gave information to the employers for a fee. Over 40 construction companies were paying £3,000 a year to access names on the list and ruin workers' lives.
Now it appears that this number of blacklisted workers could be the tip of the iceberg. Incredibly, the ICO's investigations manager, David Clancy, told the Commons Scottish Affairs Committee this week that only names from the construction industry were seized from the database in 2009.
They estimate that the remainder, from other sectors of industry could comprise 90-95% of the total! Anyone who thinks they might be on the list should contact the ICO and unions like Unite, Ucatt and the GMB.
Blacklisting has been a conscious attempt by the bosses to smash trade union organisation throughout industry, particularly in the construction sector.
It's no accident that these militant union activists have been attacked at the same time as the use of sub-contracting and other attacks have increased throughout the industry.
However, the Sparks' struggle against the Besna, which defeated the employers' plans to cut wages of electricians, plumbers and pipe fitters, shows that workers can fight and win.
The sacking of the 28 Crossrail workers at Westbourne Park shows that blacklisting and victimisation are still alive and well.
That's why we can't afford to let up in this battle. There are daily protests outside the Westbourne Park site Monday to Friday, 7am-12pm.
Also keep an eye out for the flashmob protests that are happening outside Crossrail sites throughout London on a weekly basis.
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