17 October 2013
An MP in the House of Commons yesterday (16 October 2013) stated that it was the Institute of Employment Rights’ (IER) report Ruined Lives that brought the blacklisting scandal to the notice of the press and public.
Labour MP John Cryer said that the report, which was commissioned by UCATT and authored by IER President Professor Keith Ewing, “has been responsible for much of the attention, including the press coverage, that has been given to blacklisting over the past three or four years”.
He was not the only member of the House praising Professor Ewing’s work, with Labour MP Graham Allen being the first to mention the book and its important contributions to debate in the Commons.
“Professor Ewing has written that there is no automatic compensation for being blacklisted and there are no criminal penalties for blacklisting,” Mr Allen stated. “Protection from blacklisting applies only to trade union activities, which we might think is reasonable. However, given the way the law works, that protection does not apply to trade union-related activities – work that one out. That means the courts will decide whether unofficial action is caught.”
The debate, which was brought by Labour MP Glenda Jackson, follows yet more astonishing revelations about the scandal, with the Independent Police Complaints Commission this week reporting that it is “likely that all special branches [of the police force] were involved in providing information” to blacklisting organisation The Consulting Association (TCA).
Mr Allen went on to ask the government to take on board a set of proposals, which were those recommended by Professor Ewing in Ruined Lives. These include making blacklisting a criminal offence; widening the scope of protection to cover trade union-related activities; providing workers with a positive right not to be blacklisting and the right to automatic compensation should they be blacklisting (without the worker taking on the burden of proof); and that all blacklisting workers should now receive retroactive compensation.
MPs in the debate also called for a public inquiry into blacklisting in order to reveal the wider scandal of blacklisting – which is likely to spread further than the construction industry. The IER would support a Leveson-style inquiry into this abusive practice. There were also demands for the Information Commissioner’s Office to contact the 3,200 workers on the TCA’s blacklist to let them know their name has been found, rather than waiting for workers to contact them (to date, only 800 of those on the blacklist have done so, largely because it is very difficult for an employee to know they are on a blacklist). Additionally, MPs called for Westminster to follow the lead of Wales, where there are proposals to legislate against the contracting of companies involved with blacklisting on public works.
Our report on blacklisting Ruined Lives is still available for purchase here and is now on special offer