Unite has described the blacklisting of construction workers as a national scandal on the scale of phone hacking and is calling for a ‘Leveson style’ inquiry.
The union has welcomed the forthcoming commons debate tomorrow on the issue of blacklisting, initiated by shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna, where he will call for the Information Commissioner to adopt a proactive process for informing individual victims of blacklisting so that they can seek compensation.
Secret files held by an organisation called the Consulting Association on thousands of workers in the construction sector resulted in workers being denied employment after raising legitimate health and safety concerns and exercising their human rights to belong to a trade union.
More than 40 of the UK’s largest construction firms have used a blacklist. Many of the workers still have no idea that they were included on the blacklist which was uncovered in a raid by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in 2009.
After years of denials, firms which built the Olympic Park have finally admitted that they checked names of prospective workers with the illegal Consulting Association blacklist.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “This is a scandal on the scale of phone hacking, except it is the lives of thousands of ordinary construction workers which have been ruined. There should be a full and proper inquiry.
“Construction companies have been allowed to get away with a conspiracy to spy on thousands of ordinary construction workers and destroy their careers.
“Lives have been ruined and families have been torn apart just because workers have raised safety concerns in Britain’s most dangerous industry or just because they exercised their human rights to belong to a trade union.
“The construction industry effectively had their own private Stasi style police force to spy on and blacklist workers. They even used these spies to blacklist workers for the construction of the Olympics.
“We applaud Labour’s shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna for putting this issue on the political agenda – it is time for justice.”