The blacklisting scandal first revealed in 2009, when it was discovered that thousands of construction workers were denied jobs, some for decades, because of trade union involvement, is far from over.
Despite Unite and other unions securing millions in compensation for workers systematically denied work for being trade union members or raising health and safety issues, construction workers are still at risk, and some of the UK’s biggest construction companies have not learned their lesson.
Damning new evidence provided by Unite shows the practice is alive and well – and that a full public inquiry is needed now more than ever. But unsurprisingly the government is once again washing its hands on blacklisting.
The news comes at a time when Unite has intervened to resolve a fresh case of what is known as ‘contemporary blacklisting.’
Following a debate initiated by Chuka Ummuna MP on blacklisting in September, Chris Stephens MP wrote to the junior business minister Margot James MP asking the government to take action to bar blacklisters from public sector contracts.
But the government is set on not intervening. In her letter Margot James, said, “It is up to individual contracting authorities to apply these measures and take steps to be confident in the current practices of their contractors.”
A recent case involved a Unite member employed on a major construction project in London by sub-contractor Metalyapi. Following a major safety incident on the site where a steel frame was nearly dropped from a tower crane, our member raised several health and safety issues – and sometime after the incident he ended his work with the company.
He then applied and was accepted for work with a different company on the same project. After his induction he was told there was no position for him.
When his convenor spoke to the new company it transpired they had asked Metalyapi about our member and Metalyapi said that he should not be employed – which is illegal.
When Unite said it take the case through legal channels, it was agreed the member would be reinstated. The member has since gone on to work very successfully with the company.
“What you get with this government is warm words but no action,” commented Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail.
“Even after the Consulting Association scandal, construction companies remain all too willing to blacklist workers for raising safety concerns. The industry will never resolve its safety problems while these practices still exist.
“This case shows why it’s essential workers are members of Unite. When Unite identifies blacklisting we will do everything in our power whether industrially, legally or politically to identify the culprits and win justice for our members,” she added.
• If you think you may be a victim of blacklisting contact Unite or see unitetheunion.org
This feature first appeared in Unite’s members magazine uniteWORKS. You can read the latest edition on the Unite website under Digimag or as a Unite member you can receive a print or digital copy by changing your membership records through My Unite or by contacting your local regional office regional membership admin team.