Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Can you Ban Blacklisting?


Today the newly formed Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) launched the consultation exercise on drafting statutory protection for trade union activists and members from blacklisting by employers.

You may remember previous posts on this matter and the recent controversy when the Consulting Association Ltd were found to have been providing employers in the construction industry with details of those with an activist background.

At the time I was surprised not that the disgraceful activity was happening but that the company and employers were so inept that the were caught out.

The consultation seeks to gain views on:

The definition of a blacklist of trade unionists and the prohibition of the compilation, dissemination and use of such blacklists;
making it unlawful for organisations to refuse employment, to dismiss an employee or otherwise cause detriment to a worker for a reason related to a blacklist;
making it unlawful for an employment agency to refuse a service to a worker for a reason related to a blacklist;
providing for the employment tribunal to hear complaints about alleged breaches and award remedies based on existing trade union law; and
an alternative, to provide for the courts to hear complaints from any persons that they have suffered loss or potential loss because of a prohibited blacklisting activity

Naturally all unions are encouraged to provide a response and further details are at:

My question here though is whether, despite new, welcome legislation, you will ever properly be able to squash a practice that has existed as long as trade unions have.

Comments welcome.




Jenny Harvey said...

Whatever happened to the Economic League ? They wouldn't have been put off by anything as flimsy as legislation.

Blacklisting is an appauling inevitability.

The question is that would I feel like a failure as a Trade Unionist if I didn't make the list

Ian Manborde said...

Hi Jenny,

Hope you are well.

Supposedly the Economic League declined then disappeared but their records lived on for years.
Similarly, the dodgy characters associated with it went on to form an oufit called I think CAPRIM.

As you say though, you know you are doing something right if someone wants to stop you doing it via a blacklist!

Cheers Jen


SUNNY said...

I agree with what you are saying here Ian.

As you know like you I left school early on in Manchester and became politically active at the same time I started work.

And even though I was searching for basic work I kept got turned away for work - especially where I was trying hardest with asian business owners.

I always wondered what they knew and how as I only ever wanted basic work and wasnt out to cause bother.

This may have been a different type of blacklisting from what you are saying - but it is blacklisting all the same and almost to difficult to stop happening.

Well done for raising the truth on this.


SUNNY said...


I forgot to say that on one occasion an asian man admitted thathe was told not to sign me on to work in his cash and carry as I was being too active in the sikh temple.


Ian Manborde said...


Is that you in the picture - if so you have aged tremendously since I saw you last brother!


TGWU Rep said...

I know from own experience that blacklisting goes on especically from my time when I was a ucatt member in the north west.

Of course no one would go out of their way to say it was because of our union past that you didnt get any work but you knew it was the case as the construction company was hiring and blokes with the same experience but no union backgound were being taken on.

No law then or no will stop it.

Wilf said...

Good question Ian. I found it impossible to get a job as a residential social worker after being centrally involved in two strikes by residential workers back at the beginning of the 1980's.There are also some of those brave miners involved in the 1984 strike who still suffer as a result of that defeat.

I am sure that legislation will not put an end to blacklisting, but I believe that it is important that the state through legislation signals that it is unacceptable. It might make one or two employers think that it is not worth the risk and if the blacklisters are incompetent enough to get caught give some of those that suffer a right to redress.

Ian Manborde said...

Hi Wilf,

Many thanks for your input.

I am not surprised at all that a fine trade unionist like yourself (as Jenny had said in the earlier post) wasn't blacklisted as credit to your unionising credentials!

Of course the legislation is welcome and we will apply this with all of your applied might and intellect.

My post was really trying to get reps thinking about ways they could expose this disgraceful practice even where employers were trying to keep it informal.

Thanks again Wilf.