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Mandelson consults on rules to stop trade union blacklisting

Business secretary Peter Mandelson has announced the government's intention to introduce new regulations to stop union members being denied employment by blacklists.
Under the Employment Relations Act 1999, the government has the power to introduce regulations prohibiting the blacklisting of workers for their union membership or activities. In 2003, the government consulted on draft regulations but no hard evidence was found that blacklisting was taking place. However, the government promised to review the issue if such evidence came forward.

In March 2009, the Information Commissioner reported to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform that 40 construction companies had subscribed to a database used to vet construction workers.

'Evidence from the Information Commissioner showed there was a problem', said Lord Mandelson, the secretary of state for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR).

Lord Mandelson added: 'There is already legal protection against the misuse of people's personal details. We now plan to strengthen the law by introducing new regulations to outlaw the compilation, dissemination and use of blacklists in this way. People should not be victimised at work or denied access to employment opportunities because of their trade union membership'.

The government will launch a consultation this summer on revised regulations but because there was a full consultation in 2003, this second consultation will be shorter than the usual twelve week period. The government says the short consultation is necessary to ensure the regulations take full account of developments since 2003.

The short consultation will allow interested parties to give their view on how the regulations can be improved. Ministers plan to seek parliamentary approval for the regulations this autumn and implement them as soon as it can thereafter.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: 'It is outrageous that unscrupulous employers have been victimising trade unionists through shady blacklisting practices that have no place in a democratic society. I am glad that the government is now consulting speedily on this issue which will, I hope, lead to quick and effective action to outlaw this utterly unacceptable practice.'

11 May 2009

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