Socialist Party
| Print

11 March 2015

Spied on by the state and bosses

Neil Cafferky

One of the key industrial battles of the last five years has been the struggle of workers in the construction industry for trade union rights and better terms and conditions.

There have been a number of high profile disputes such as Lindsey, BESNA and Crossrail. A vital weapon of the employers has been victimisation of union activists.

Central to this strategy was the blacklist, where a shadowy organisation called the Consulting Association kept a central database of union activists. Those workers were then systematically excluded from employment by the big construction firms.

'Blacklisted', a new book released this month, tells the story behind this 30-year conspiracy against union activists. The book is co-authored by Dave Smith a prominent construction militant and Phil Chamberlain, an investigative journalist.

As well as detailing the close links between construction industry bosses and the Consulting Association the book also reveals the active collusions of the government security services in passing on information about political activists to employers. In many cases this led to people being excluded from employment simply for taking part in legitimate protests and campaigns.

These revelations come on the back of the scandal of undercover police targeting and infiltrating political organisations in the 1990s such as Militant and Youth Against Racism in Europe (YRE), as well as spying on the family of black murdered teenager, Steven Lawrence.

It reveals, once again, that far from being neutral guardians of public safety the security services are a tool of the employers and their political representatives in power. It therefore comes as no surprise that an independent inquiry into Blacklisting and the role of the security services has been ruled out by the Tories.