Govt refuses public inquiry into blacklisting
13 February 2017
Business Minister Margot James has refused to conduct a public inquiry into blacklisting after being called to do so by Labour MPs.
In a parliamentary debate on Wednesday (08 February 2017), The Secretary of State said it was too late to hold such an inquiry following 2009’s raid of blacklisting firm the Consulting Association, which found 44 construction companies were funding and partaking in the blacklisting of trade unionists.
Leading the debate, Labour MP Chuka Umunna said he had “never seen injustice on this scale” before and called for the firms involved to be made to prove they have cleaned up their act before they were allowed to work on public contracts.
He pointed out that even after the raid, none of the firms were charged with any offence, and the compensation the companies later agreed to pay to blacklisted workers (after a parliamentary debate on the issue) was inadequate and agreed without the prior agreement of trade unions.
“ Applicants to the [compensation] scheme are required to waive any future legal claims, and the companies involved do not have to admit liability or give an apology as part of the process, Mr Umunna stated. “To date, not one director of any of those companies has been brought to book for what happened. That is an outrage.”
He also highlighted that there were “serious questions” over potential police and intelligence services involvement in blacklisting that require full investigation, and called for changes to the blacklisting regulations to make them stronger – particularly as many people working in the construction industry are classified as “self-employed”, thus complicating their rights at tribunal.
James responded: “Such an inquiry would have had an effect 20 years ago, and I regret very much there wasn’t one held then.”
The IER calls for blacklisting to be made a criminal offence in its Manifesto for Labour Law – 25 recommendations for the reform of labour law adopted by the Labour Party.