Tag Archives: employment

Blacklisting: the scandal continues

1 Feb
by Sarah Glenister

It is shameful that so little has been done to acknowledge the scandal of blacklisting and scandalous that even less has been done to compensate those who have suffered from this vile practice. Last week the Institute of Employment Rights released a comprehensive resource document on blacklisting.

Last week saw an opposition debate in Parliament on blacklisting in the Ruined Livesconstruction industry which called for an immediate investigation into the extent of the practice and an assurance “that appropriate and effective sanctions are in place to tackle and prevent blacklisting”.

During the debate, many passionate speeches were heard from Labour MPs, some of whom have themselves been the victims of blacklisting, and many of whom know of constituents who have had their livelihoods snatched away from them by the practice.

With evidence coming to light through the Scottish Affairs Committee’s Inquiry that the police and the Security Service colluded with the activities of blacklisters in the construction industry, and that blacklisting practices have been rife in public works, including the construction of the Olympic Park, it was also argued that a Leveson-style inquiry must go ahead. Blacklisting has been given important exposure by the Scottish Parliament and we must congratulate MSPs for their determination in forcing this issue up the political agenda.

But the practice of blacklisting is not restricted to the UK alone. The construction companies identified as participating in the blacklisting operation include household names based and operating across Europe including: Skanska (Sweden), Bam (Netherlands), Vinci (France), Laing O’Rourke (Ireland), Sir Robert McAlpine, Balfour Beatty, Kier, Costain, Carillion (UK) to name but a few. It is important therefore that European wide action is taken in response.

The Blacklist Support Group and Professor Keith Ewing of the Institute of Employment Rights fought hard to bring blacklisting to the attention of the EU Commissioner in 2011 and there is now much work taking place at the European level with Stephen Hughes MEP and Glenis Willmott MEP taking up the issue in the European Parliament.

In the light of recent evidence and based on the information gathered in Scotland, EU and now at Westminster, we believe the current blacklisting Regulations now need to be strengthened in the following ways:

  1. There should be a positive right not to be blacklisted and workers who find themselves on a blacklist should have an automatic right to compensation without the burden of proof being placed upon them.
  2. A retroactive compensation scheme should be established to compensate blacklisted workers.
  3. Protection against blacklisting should be extended to include “trade union related activities”.
  4. Blacklisting should be a criminal offence and companies who make use of blacklists should be open to criminal prosecution.
  5. The government’s recently announced Advisory Council for the Construction Industry should be a tripartite body.

Last week the Institute of Employment Rights released a comprehensive resource on blacklisting which looks at the historical practice, Government responses, the legal context, evidence from various investigations and case studies. This resource is free and we encourage you to share it widely.

This post was originally published by Class.

Class – new think tank launches

22 May

by Rachel YatesClass logo

The Centre for Labour and Social Studies (Class) is a new think tank established by Unite the Union, GMB and the Institute of Employment Rights to act as a centre for left debate and discussion. Originating in the labour movement, Class is working with a broad coalition of supporters, academics and experts to develop and advance alternative policies for today.

Through high quality, intellectually compelling publications and events Class seeks to shape ideas that can inspire the trade union movement, cement a broad alliance of social forces and influence policy development to ensure the political agenda is on the side of working people.

Visit the new Class website: http://classonline.org.uk/

Follow Class on Twitter: @classthinktank

Like Class on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Class-Centre-for-Labour-and-Social-Studies/278894568854115

May Day – a day to reflect on what workers have won and to focus on the future fight

1 May
Workers, Unite!
by Hannah Blythyn
Today is international workers day or May Day as it is often more commonly known here – a day that will witness rallies and marches around the world. Events that take on special significance across Europe as unions, grass-roots groups and the public gather together to call time on the economic agenda of austerity that is making working people and the most vulnerable pay the highest price.
At home and abroad workers are facing the biggest battles and challenges of a generation – from cuts to the public sector to attacks on employment rights.
Here in the UK, the coalition government is hell-bent on chipping away at health and safety protection, with Cameron declaring that his new year’s resolution was to kill of health and safety culture for good.
But the Prime Minister does not live in the real world nor does he have any experience of a real workplace. The reality is that to kill off health and safety at work would result in more workers being killed whilst just doing their job – even with the protections we currently have around 20,000 people die every year in the UK as a result of their work.
This clampdown on health and safety is part of a wider attack on workers’ rights by the coalition government – from rolling back the right to access unfair dismissal, to right-wing Tory assaults on trade union facility time and introducing charges for taking cases to employment tribunals.
This Conservative led coalition government has even gone as far as to previously suggest that the May Day bank holiday be moved – making their feelings on workers’ rights all too clear.
But it also right that on this day we take time to reflect and commemorate all that has been achieved by the trade unions for working people – the weekend, statutory paid holidays, the national minimum wage, health and safety legislation and much, much more.
We know that there are tough times and great fights ahead but lest us not forget on today of all days that we have won in the past and together we will win for working people in the future.
Are you marking May Day 2012?
If you are taking part in any May Day activity this coming weekend or know of any events near you then let us know and we’ll make sure we give you a mention.
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