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EU Parliament Vote On Blacklisting

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

GMB Welcome Vote By European Parliament To Ban Blacklisting In EU Law

Union has worked with MEPs for two years to ensure that the revision of the Data Protection rules now includes specific measures to outlaw blacklisting across the EU says GMB.

MEPs in the European Parliament in Strasbourg today (12th March) voted to back measures to ensure blacklisting is illegal under EU law. This follows an EU wide campaign by GMB to ensure that companies using these scandalous practices have nowhere to hide.

The vote on the proposals for the revision of General Data protection regulation COM (2012) 0011 took place on Wed 12th March 2014 in a Strasbourg European Parliament plenary session. See notes to editors for history of this legislation.

Amendment 192, included in the report’s Article 82, on data protection in the employment context states:

“(e) workers’ personal data, especially sensitive data such as political orientation and membership of and activities in trade unions, may under no circumstances be used to put workers on so-called ‘blacklists’, and to vet or bar them from future employment. The processing, the use in the employment context, the drawing-up and passing-on of blacklists of employees shall be prohibited. Member States shall conduct checks and adopt adequate sanctions in accordance with Article 79(6) to ensure effective implementation of this point.”

Blacklisting in the UK came to light when in 2009 the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) seized a Consulting Association database of 3,213 construction workers and environmental activists used by 44 companies to vet new recruits and keep out of employment trade union and health and safety activists.

So far 467 out of the 3,214 on the list know they are on blacklist. Several hundred of these 467 are covered by claims in the High Court. ICO planned to contact direct 1,200 after using their national insurance details to get a current address. That will leave 1,546 still to trace.

Last October eight blacklisting companies (Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and VINCI PLC) went some way towards an apology and talks are under way on compensation to the victims they blacklisted.

On 27th November particulars of claim were served in the High Court in the GMB legal action against Carillion and other for blacklisting GMB members. A further hearing is due in April.

Kathleen Walker Shaw, GMB European officer, said “GMB welcome the vote today in the European Parliament on the Revision of the EU Data Protection Regulation.

GMB has worked closely with MEPs for two years to ensure that the revision of the Data Protection rules now includes specific measures to outlaw blacklisting across the EU, and welcomes the European Parliament’s support today.

GMB had called for the amendment to ensure that sensitive data including membership and activities in trade unions should under no circumstances be used to put workers on blacklists, and to vet or bar them from future employment. It also explicitly prohibits the processing, drawing up and passing on of blacklists.

The measures require governments to adopt adequate sanctions and penalties to enforce these measures. Existing UK legislation will need to be strengthened to ensure companies acting illegally in blacklisting workers are forced to own up, clean up and pay up.”

Justin Bowden GMB National officer, added “ Over 3,200 workers were found to have been on the blacklist yet to date none have been compensated for the devastation caused to workers and their families through being barred from employment.

GMB continues its campaign to get justice for these workers, and we hope that these measures will help us to address this scandal.

Many of the companies using this blacklist were European based multinationals, and GMB has been working with our European trade union colleagues to target these companies and bring them to book. GMB believes no public- or government authority should use tax payers money to award public contracts to blacklisting companies who have failed to compensate workers fully and have cleaned up their act.”


Contact  Kathleen Walker Shaw 07841 181 549 or GMB press office 07921 289880

Justin Bowden on 07710 631351 or Maria Ludkin 07956 632 657 or GMB press office at 07921 289880 or 07974 251 823. GMB Scotland Richard Leonard 07703 465447 or Wales Martin Hird 07809 769378

For Leigh Day: David Standard 07540 332717 or Michael Newman 0795 223 9358 or Chris Benson on 07795425649.

The people on blacklist should call Phil Read at GMB on 07840 897997 or email him

Notes to editors:

General Background to EU proposals:

Commission issued proposals in January 2012 to update 1995 regulation

Parliament draft report published in Jan 2013 (first time it has co-decision in this area)

It received a Parliament record of nearly 4000 amendments – which ended up delaying the whole process.

LIBE Committee voted on report in October 2013. With 91 compromise amendments which include the compromise text on Article 82 above (data protection in employment context, which includes reference to blacklisting)

Council of EU Ministers is divided and has not yet formed clear common position

Following the vote, The European Parliament is likely to start negotiations with Council in July, with a view to reaching a final agreement by the end of 2014.


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