It has recently come to light that a sinister blacklist has been used in the construction industry. The list was used by over 40 construction companies to deny jobs to so called trouble makers. The list totalled over 3000 names and for those on the list they often found themselves out of work and unable to get a job for no apparent reason.
The list was created by Ian Kerr who ran a firm call the Consulting Association. He secretly attended various meetings where he thought trouble makers would hang out. Anyone that associated with Trade Union activity, health and safety concerns or even simply standing up for a colleague was put on the list which was then sold on to firms for £3000 per time.
However there are concerns that the list which was found when Mr Kerr’s offices were raided in 2009 is only the tip of the iceberg. There are worries that further lists existed within his organisation and also that other lists from other companies are still in circulation. The lists would have influenced the workforce on projects such as the Olympic Stadium and London Crossrail.
There is now pressure on the Information Commissioner Christopher Graham take action to ensure victims can claim compensation. The shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna wants to ensure all of the names that appear on the list that was found in the 2009 raid are contacted.
Most of the workers on the list will still have no idea why the work dried up and could be in line for a sizeable windfall as they may be eligible for compensation.
Currently blacklisting is not a criminal offence however last week MP’s in the Commons launched a motion condemning "the malicious practice which denied workers employment without them being able to see or challenge information against them".
What is really shocking is that the list was used by some of the UK’s most reputable companies such as Balfour Beatty, Sir Robert McAlpine and Laing O'Rourke. In fact McAlpine even paid for the £5000 fine incurred by Ian Kerr’s company.
This really doesn’t seem like justice considering the hardship that would have been caused to thousands of families in what are already very tough times. We can only hope that this practice is outlawed as soon as possible and that those who do operate in this shady way cease in the practice. Ultimately if those who stand up for health and safety are blacklisted then it not only impacts on their lives it could ultimately cost lives for others working in unsafe working environments.