Uncovering the scandal of blacklisting – time for an inquiry

Two weeks ago I met with a delegation from Unite the Union to discuss their concerns over blacklisting in the construction sector.   The blacklist was a database of over 3,000 known trade union and health and safety activists within the construction sector which was used by companies to vet new recruits.    It was uncovered in 2009 by the Information Commissioners Office but the ICO did not contact anyone on the list to inform them of their blacklist status.

Unite has been working with the GMB and UCATT unions to call for a full and independent public inquiry into blacklisting in Scotland.   Last month  UCATT agreed an anti-blacklisting statement with Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont MSP  I agree with Johann’s comments that “It is appalling that working people were denied the opportunity to earn a living for their families because they refused to accept unfair conditions at their workplace. It is the worst kind of abuse of power and those impacted rightly feel angry to this day that companies were allowed to collude and act in this way.”

Today my colleague Neil Findlay MSP led a Members’ Debate on Blacklisting.  It was an excellent debate which you can watch here http://www.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/scotland-22383104

Blacklisting is a scandal which has destroyed people’s livelihoods, tarnished reputations and led to family breakdown.    To make matters worse, most of the people affected will have no idea they have been blacklisted.   These workers have been denied the opportunity to make a living simply because they were members of trade unions or raised safety concerns on construction sites.

The Scottish Government’s forthcoming Procurement Reform Bill provides an excellent opportunity to examine the potential to deliver measures to clamp down on blacklisting to protect workers from unfair discrimination.

In my role as Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Member for Local Government, I have been speaking with colleagues across Scotland’s local authorities to highlight concerns over this issue and I am aware that to date Glasgow, Renfrewshire, West Dunbarton and East Ayrshire councils have considered motions condemning the practice.