20 October 2009
MPs To Increase Efforts To Strengthen Blacklisting Measures
A group of Labour MPs have agreed to work with construction union UCATT to pressurise the Government to strengthen the draft regulations designed to outlaw blacklisting.
The MPs agreed to take this action at the parliamentary launch on 20th October 2009 of Ruined Lives: Blacklisting in the UK Construction Industry an academic report which reveals that the Government’s proposed anti-blacklisting regulations are inadequate.
Ruined Lives was commissioned by UCATT and produced by the Institute of Employment Rights. Professor Keith Ewing the author of Ruined Lives said the Government’s draft regulations were “hopeless and inadequate”.
He described how the Regulations do not provide a right not to be blacklisted, if a worker is blacklisted there is no automatic right to compensation and that it would not be illegal to supply information to a blacklist. The Government does not propose to make blacklisting a criminal offence so the burden of proof remains on the affected worker.
Mr Ewing also described how the draft Regulations were too narrowly defined as they only referred to trade union activity, which could mean that the blacklisting of political activists would remain legal. The draft Regulations also do not cover industrial action.
Alan Ritchie, General Secretary of UCATT, described how union health and safety reps were especially targeted by companies, as they were often swiftly laid off after assuming their duties and then were unable to find work with other companies.
Speaking about the need for the draft regulations to be strengthened Mr Ritchie, said: “The Regulations don’t just have to be watertight they have to be airtight so the employers can’t wriggle out of them.”
John Winstanley a UCATT activist who was blacklisted throughout his working life told the meeting how between 1964-1987 he had 54 different employers, due to being blacklisted. Resulting in often having to claim benefits a situation which placed a huge “strain on his relationship”.
Despite having been in the construction industry for 50 years Mr Winstanley said that he felt he could not provide a reference for any of his family because of the, “fear that as I was blacklisted it would affect the work of my relations.”
The Government is due to publish the anti-blacklisting Regulations before Christmas, following a consultation exercise that ended in August. The MPs have agreed to ask parliamentary questions, lobby the Department of Business and use parliamentary scrutiny methods in order to ensure that the regulations are strengthened.