GMB Calls For Leveson Style Inquiry Into Blacklisting After Claims That Police Gathered Evidence On Union Activists For Construction Firms
Blacklist shows it should be a criminal offence for anyone to interfere with the civil rights of any worker to be represented by a trade union in their workplace says GMB
GMB, the union for construction workers, commented on the report in the Guardian today (19th August ) that a former police officer Peter Francis, the whistleblower who revealed that police spied on supporters of Stephen Lawrence's family, had personally collected some of the intelligence that later appeared in the Consulting Association blacklisting files.
Blacklisting 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. Over 60% of those on the blacklist were aged between 30 and 50 in the mid1990s. They were mainly active trade union lay leaders on construction sites. Many of them are now nearing retirement age with no pension arrangements.
GMB lodged claims in the High Court in London in June 1013 seeking compensation for GMB members blacklisted by Carillion and other construction employers. Law firm Leigh Day, acting for GMB, is seeking compensation and and injunctions for nearly 100 GMB members kept out of work as a direct result of an unlawful conspiracy by construction employers. The claims include defamation, given the damage to workers’ reputation from being on the blacklist.
Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said "Ian Kerr from the Consulting Association told the press late last year that a senior police officer attended meetings of the blacklisting body. See notes to editors for copy of article in the Times. Now we have this further report on police input to the blacklist.
There is a clear need for a Leveson style enquiry into blacklisting and the involvement of state forces in it.
This also points to the need for it to become a criminal offence for anyone to interfere with the civil rights of any worker to be represented by a trade union in their workplace. This is because under existing laws the employers and the police systematically interfered with these civil rights for decades with impunity.”
Contact: Justin Bowden on 07710 631351 or Maria Ludkin 07956 632 657 or GMB press office at 07921 289880 or 07974 251 823
To identify more names on the blacklist call please call Phil Read at GMB on 07840 897997 or email him firstname.lastname@example.org
Call Dave Smith 07882 579 452 for Blacklist Support Group response.
Notes to editors
Artice from Times 23 Jan 2013
Police were briefed on industry extremists and ‘bad eggs’
Ian Kerr: database wasn't a blacklist
Published at 12:01AM, January 23 2013
For more than 15 years, Ian Kerr went about his business in an office above a high street shop in a Worcestershire market town.
Behind the battered green door that guarded the premises in Droitwich, Mr Kerr filled his days fielding telephone calls, updating thousands of reference cards and clipping articles from radical left-wing publications.
Documents setting out the Consulting Association’s rules emphasise that “confidentiality is the key”. Mr Kerr, its chief executive, oversaw the maintenance of the database. He argued that it wasn’t a blacklist because members received the information on potential emloyees and made a “balanced decision” of their own accord.
“In a wider sense, the service was something all construction benefited from, whether members or not, because experience has shown the ability of a very small section of this industry’s workforce to cause delays and disruption to major sites,” he said.
Mr Kerr told The Times that the association had established links with the police and security services. He recounted a meeting organised by the association in 2008 when eight construction industry directors were addressed by a “key officer” from the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit (Netcu), which was a Huntingdon-based police organisation set up to counter “extremist” protest groups.
“They were seeking a channel to inform construction companies [of the information] they were collecting [and] they were wanting to be able to feed it out to the companies,” Mr Kerr said.
In return, the Netcu officer purportedly asked the companies to pass on their own information about potential troublemakers and Mr Kerr said that a “two-way information exchange” opened up. A police spokeswoman declined to comment.
Mr Kerr said that codes were used to indicate those who were of interest to Special Branch — “Irish ex-Army, bad egg” was one example of this.
After the closure of the association, Mr Kerr wrote to member companies with a final invoice and asking for an additional contribution of £1,500 towards legal fees. Only two — Sir Robert McAlpine and Vinci — agreed to pay up, with others hiring lawyers who demanded proof that they were members or otherwise liable for the costs.
Skanska, Balfour Beatty and Laing O’Rourke said that the use of blacklisting databases was against company policy. Vinci and Kier Group declined to comment.