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Fighting the construction industry blacklist
Blacklisting of workers in the construction industry has recently been exposed for the scourge that it is.
Workers have had their livelihoods taken away just because they are trade union activists or even health and safety reps.
Paul is an electrician in Hull Unite No1 branch. He is on the Blacklisting Support Group steering committee. He has written this account of fighting the blacklist.
I discovered I was on the Consulting Association's blacklisting file run by Ian Kerr in March 2009. I was on the list, along with just over 3,000 other construction workers. This is just under 1% of the UK construction workforce.
These workers have all had information gathered illegally by this man, who passed it to 40 of the UK's largest construction companies.
He charged a fee and each company paid an annual subscription. He was making a profit out of preventing people from working.
It is obscene to put it mildly. Four companies had used this company to find information about me. None of the information was correct.
To have people make assumptions about your character purely for your trade union beliefs is surreal and wrong.
I contacted Unite the Union to see if I could pursue these companies to employment tribunals. They agreed but getting just one to a hearing is hard enough, let alone four, and the legal process is long and strict.
After two years of effort I was only successful in getting Balfour Beatty Engineering Services to a full tribunal hearing in February 2011.
The hearing lasted two days. The verdict was in my favour. I'm one of only a handful of people on this list who has had any kind of success.
This is not from lack of effort on other workers' part, more has to be done for every person on that list.
The Blacklisting Support Group, run by rank and file members, is working tirelessly to that end.
The trade union movement has to support a national campaign to ensure everyone on that list gets justice. After three years there has still not been a fully organised national campaign.
Ian Kerr, the person at the centre of this scandal, was only fined £5,000. The companies involved got an information embargo from the last Labour government.
We've committed no crime but had our human rights abused and livelihoods affected. This should not be able to happen in a so-called civilised, democratic country.
The people on this list should be applauded for fighting on in one of the hardest working environments - the construction sites.
In The Socialist 10 October 2012:
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