Unions have called for a ‘phone hacking-style’ public inquiry into the practice of blacklisting


Unions have called for a ‘phone hacking-style’ public inquiry into the practice of blacklisting.

The TUC’s annual conference overwhelmingly supported a call from GMB, Unite, UCATT and TSSA for public bodies, such as local authorities and health trusts, to review whether contracts should be awarded to companies involved in such activities.

GMB national officer, Justin Bowden told delegates: “The link between blacklisting and the high levels of death and injuries in construction is obvious.

“Blacklisting not only removed active safety reps from building sites, it had a wider intimidatory effect as others saw what happened to those who raised health and safety concerns, and stayed silent.”

The conference vote came as Coalition ministers are poised to announce plans – due to take effect in April 2013 – to cut the numbers of health and safety inspections of shops and offices.

GMB general secretary, Paul Kenny (pictured, below) told a pre-congress news conference he would continue to campaign for companies known to have been involved in blacklisting to be barred from bidding for public sector building contracts, despite the threat of legal action.

“The companies that used this register, despite their denials, they can sue me tomorrow, I’m turning up.

“We’ve got every cat on them.

“This has blighted people’s lives.

“In my mind, it you stand back and look at it honestly, it’s up there ranking with the phone-bugging scandal.”

The GMB and civil rights group Liberty have both called for the data protection watchdog, the ICO, to notify more than 3,000 people whose names were unlawfully held on an anti-union surveillance register.

Lawyers from Liberty are due to hold talks with the Information Commission this week.

Said Paul Kenny: “Having got this information, the government body hasn’t advised the victims that they’re victims.

“You have to go through a tortuous route to actually find out.

“You’d think the very least they would do is to alert people to the fact that they’ve been victims of this blacklist and then, obviously, there are legal remedies to seek redress.”

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