An investigation into the blacklisting of construction workers is stepping up.
Unite the Union, commonly known as Unite, is appealing for information to support its inquiry to root out collaborators of firms that single out workers for being union activists.
In 2009 it was revealed that Consulting Association, an off-the-books organisation based in the West Midlands, had, for (at least) 16 years compiled a secret database of thousands of construction workers, including names, addresses, National Insurance (NI) numbers, and comments by superiors.
It was a way to keep people out.
Well over 30 firms, and security services, could, and it appears did, (at the time) fax the Consulting Association to consult its files on a worker without their knowledge, who were deemed union members, and ‘bad eggs’, or who may just have been raising a health and safety concern.
Hushed up at the time, the story eventually broke in the Guardian in 2008, resulting in enforcement action and tribunals.
More than 3,200 people were found to be on the Consulting Association database following an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office.
In April last year, Unite started an independent inquiry into allegations that some union officials may have colluded in the blacklisting of construction workers.
It has instructed a legal team of Matrix Chambers, 33 Chancery Lane Chambers, and Public Interest Law Centre, to investigate if any union officials from Unite or its predecessor unions were involved in the practice of blacklisting.
Unite is a British and Irish trade union formed in 2007 by the merger of Amicus and the Transport and General Workers’ Union (TGWU), with members in construction, manufacturing, transport, logistics and other sectors.
“Blacklisting is a disgusting practice which ruins workers’ lives. Unite has been and continues to be at the forefront of stamping out this practice once and for all. That is why the inquiry into any collusion between union officials and blacklisters is so critical,” said Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham.
Get industry news in 5 minutes!
A daily email that makes industry news enjoyable. It’s completely free.