Construction industry blacklist seized

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Django's picture
Django
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Mar 5 2009 15:40
Construction industry blacklist seized

This was reposted on Indymedia from building trade magazine:

Quote:
Legal action threatened over bank of invoices and national insurance numbers taken from Midlands address

A blacklist of more than 3,000 construction workers used by several major contractors is understood to have been uncovered, according to union sources.

Ian Kerr, a private consultant, is understood to have had his Worcestershire office raided and computer and files seized by Data Protection Services, over claims they contain the names of 3,200 blacklisted construction workers.

In addition to the workers' names and national insurance numbers, 40 invoices were discoverd from major construction firms who are alleged to have used Kerr's services, reportedly to check up on potential employees.

The blacklist relates back to projects in the M&E sector hit by industrial disputes during the 1990s and early 2000s, including the Jubilee line extension and the Royal Opera House. It is said to contain the names of workers involved in trade union disputes and employment tribunals.

The existence of an M&E blacklist was first uncovered by Building in 2006 after Alan Wainwright, a regional resources manager at a large contractor within the sector, published allegations on the internet.

According to Wainwright, a blacklist of electricians was being circulated among leading M&E firms with the intention of ensuring that they were not employed.

Now, the row has resurfaced with allegations that Kerr, understood to be a retired special branches officer, was in the employ of various large contractors to vet potential workers.

Steve Acheson, a Unite branch official, said he had been approached by the Information Commissioner’s Office, which is leading the investigation, over a year ago.

He said: “We’ve been waiting for this, we knew our human rights were being breached by this list, now hopefully this raid will provide evidence of this.”

If the list of names and invoices are found to be in Kerr's possessions, many firms could face lengthy law suits.

Tony Jones, 42, previously worked on the Jubilee line and believes he is on the blacklist. He said: “The firms should be held accountable - they've been taking food out of children's mouths. That's what it comes down to.”

The Information Commissioner’s Office is an independent authority set up to promote access to official information and protect personal information. A spokesperson for the body said an official statement on the raids would be made tomorrow.

sum-one's picture
sum-one
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Mar 6 2009 10:45

Here's something from the Beeb:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_7927000/7927784.stm

Django's picture
Django
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Mar 6 2009 11:13

Hilarious 'well, shouldn't employers know about troublemakers?' question from the anchor there.

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Entdinglichung
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Mar 6 2009 13:48

the companies involved: http://www.contractjournal.com/Articles/2009/03/06/65491/list-of-40-construction-firms-accused-of-buying-private-data-revealed.html

tsi
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Mar 6 2009 16:21

Everyone knows that this stuff goes on, but I think it's great that this brings another bit of the nasty stuff employers do out into the open and may give some of the workers a chance to sue the bastards.

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Entdinglichung
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Mar 6 2009 16:49

a comparable thing hapened in Germany in 2007 when investigations into some tax fraud isuues at Siemens also uncovered that the scab "union" AUB (somewhere between 10.000-30.000 members) and their general secretary had received at least 35m € from Siemens

tigersiskillers
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Mar 7 2009 00:27

From what I heard on the radio today it sound like the Information Commissioner's Office (the quango that oversees data protection) is only going after the people that maintained the blacklist, not the companies who used it to vett potential staff. That means that the only way the client companies would get any comeuppance would be through civil action brought by individuals. Yet my understanding is that under the data protection act by receiving and acting upon the blacklisting information they have been 'processing sensitive personal data' without consent or lawful purpose. Processing under the Act means basically doing something with information. Sensitive personal data includes political opinions and union affiliations. This is therefore a criminal matter, but it's being left to individuals to seek legal aid and take civil cases, which is bullshit.

tsi
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Mar 7 2009 06:49
tigersiskillers wrote:
This is therefore a criminal matter, but it's being left to individuals to seek legal aid and take civil cases, which is bullshit.

but pretty much to be expected I suppose. just par for the course.

tigersiskillers
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Mar 7 2009 10:16

Oh I know. But I'm kind of glad this sort of stuff still annoys me - as the years go by I get resigned to more and more shite...

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jef costello
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Mar 7 2009 15:43

This link got posted on another board, it's a list of companies that used the service.

Spikymike
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Mar 7 2009 15:48

The role of blacklists of electricians used against workers/ex workers at the MRI and No1 Picadilly Construction sites in Manchester has been previously well publicised including by local northern anarchists. This adds further to the evidence of a more widespread and organised use of such lists. I doubt if this is the only case.

David in Atlanta
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Mar 7 2009 17:20

Someone had to give the guy information to blacklist, right? They should be liable for prosecution if tigersiskillers is right about what the Act says

Is there a way for workers to find out if they were included on the list?

baboon
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Mar 7 2009 18:54

In the 70s the Economic League, a state-run organisation produced a Blacklist booklet with the names of militants, "subversives", and so on, throughout industry. The chance of workers finding legal redress here is slim to non-existent. The chances of finding out if one is one the list is also slim, not least because there will be more than one list.
Many of the 40 construction firms named have complicated corporate, financial and contractural links with the power, gas and water industries so I would think it reasonable to assume, knowing the security issue in those industries mentioned, that a Blacklist goes far wider than that already reported.

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Red Marriott
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Mar 7 2009 22:06
baboon wrote:
In the 70s the Economic League, a state-run organisation produced a Blacklist booklet with the names of militants, "subversives", and so on, throughout industry.

The Economic League wasn't "state-run" - it was set up in 1919 by industrialists to counter 'subversion, agitators, communism etc'. They did obviously have close links with state intelligence bodies, but also kept files on many politicians and other state functionaries.

It didn't actually produce a "Blacklist booklet" - it provided a service to company subscribers; employers could send in names to be checked against the files held by the EC or pay for other surveillance services. While their blacklisting did keep some people such as shop stewards unemployed for years, in fact their intelligence gathering was often inaccurate and people were sometimes wrongly listed as CP members or put on file for expressing mildly liberal views in a letter written to a local paper. They also used private detectives and informers. Some former EC employees who broke ranks said that EC exaggerated threats to companies from 'subversives' to justify their services.

Iirc, if you wanted to find out if they held a file on you, you had to fill in a form which required stating all political groups you had been a member of etc - in fact, all the info that they would need to open a file on you. Just so they didn't mix you up with someone else, of course.

syndicalist
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Jul 29 2012 13:54
Quote:
The deadly scandal in the building trade

Construction workers are blacklisted if they say health and safety rules are being flouted, even though many of their colleagues could die or be maimed

Continued:

http://m.guardian.co.uk/ms/p/gnm/op/sMBHvZOU9t-IPSkOd_cicLg/view.m?id=15&gid=commentisfree/2012/jul/29/nick-cohen-construction-workers-blacklist&cat=commentisfree

Mark.
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Jul 29 2012 16:41

Blacklist blog

Stop Press from the Blacklist Support Group

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Book O'Dead
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Aug 2 2012 00:51

Capitalists are constantly providing us with evidence that proves our point and shows the inherently criminal nature of capitalism.

This example of covert corporate warfare waged against workers should convince anyone skeptical of the reality of the class struggle; the workplace is only one of the many battlegrounds in which class antagonism is played out. As Daniel De Leon said: "[The class struggle] crops up in all manner ways":

Quote:
Between the working class and the capitalist class, there is an irrepressible conflict, a class struggle for life. No glib-tongued politician can vault over it, no capitalist professor or official statistician can argue it away; no capitalist parson can veil it; no labor faker can straddle it; no “reform” architect can bridge it over. It crops up in all manner of ways, like in this strike, in ways that disconcert all the plans and all the schemes of those who would deny or ignore it. It is a struggle that will not down, and must be ended, only by either the total subjugation of the working class, or the abolition of the capitalist class.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/deleon/works/1898/980211.htm