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Parliament to consider barring blacklisters from public works

Ministers in parliament will be urged to bar contractors linked to a construction industry blacklist from public works.
Labour MP Michael Clapham has secured an adjournment debate on the subject of blacklists on March 23 and plans to argue against blacklist contributors being considered for public procurement.

An investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office has implicated more than 40 contractors in the use of a blacklist supplied by Consulting Association and the ICO has received calls from construction workers who believe they are on the list.

Addressing Harriett Harman, the leader of the Commons, last week, he said: 'This House is alarmed and concerned to learn from the Information Commissioner's report that the blacklisting of trade union members is widespread in the construction industry; condemns the major construction contractors who subscribed to the Consulting Association and also provided it with information about workers and employees; notes that many of the companies who donated to the Consulting Association are currently engaged on publicly-procured work projects worth billions of pounds'.

He went on to call on the government to enact immediately legislation to prohibit the compilation of a blacklist.

The government had initially intended to make blacklisting illegal as part of section 3 of the 1999 Employment Relations Act. Section 3 made provision for 'regulations prohibiting the compilation of lists' and made it a criminal offence for construction or other companies to make such information available. However the regulations were never introduced.

The MP added: 'Some time ago, we thought that the practice had come to an end'. He asked whether Harriett Harman would 'raise with justice ministers the need to bring forward regulations under section 3, and will she consider whether the information commissioner should give people whose names are likely to be on such a list more time to check whether that is so, because of the legal implications?'

Harriet Harman said: 'No trade union health and safety representative should find that, as a result of speaking up on behalf of their colleagues, they are on a blacklist and are never able to work again. The government are totally opposed to that, and want to make sure that there is most effective enforcement when that happens. The trade union-UCATT,the information commissioner and the government have to work together to make sure that people have the right to work, and that such scurrilous activity is ended'.
17 March 2009

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