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Information commissioner investigates new blacklist

June 1st, 2010

Unite warns of illegal database of workers a year after similar activities by Consulting Association were exposed

The information commissioner is looking into claims that industry employers are operating a new construction blacklist.

The move comes just a year after the commissioner exposed the activities of Ian Kerr, whose organisation, the Consulting Association, operated a blacklist of workers paid for by leading contractors for more than 15 years.

In a letter to the information commissioner Christopher Graham and new construction minister Mark Prisk, trade union Unite expressed its concerns that a new blacklist has been established.

A spokesperson for the Information Commissioner’s Office said: “We have received a letter from a Unite representative expressing concern that blacklisting activity may be still taking place. We will seek further clarification on this matter and will consider what, if any, further action needs to be taken.”

It is understood Unite became aware of the new blacklist after a senior manager at an M&E company told representatives that firms were meeting regularly to discuss workers they should exclude from their employment.

A Unite official said: “We’ve heard this new group meets monthly and that so far meetings have taken place in Birmingham and London. They’re discussing people they don’t want on their projects and exchanging names. They’re monitoring activists and stewards and building information on them.”

A spokesperson for Prisk said: “The minister would want this matter investigated by the correct authorities.”

The union has also written to Labour leadership contender John McDonnell, one of the leaders of the Blacklist Support Group, which helped organise a class action law suit against contractors found to be using the illegal blacklist that was uncovered last year.

A year ago, more than 40 construction firms, including Balfour Beatty, Kier and Sir Robert McAlpine, were discovered to have been paying for information on 3,213 workers.

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