The first of many construction workers’ blacklist cases started at London Central employment tribunal on 20 January 2010. A Mr Mick Dooley claims his name was on a blacklist of construction industry trade union activists and that he lost his job as a bricklayer as a result. He is bringing a claim against Balfour Beatty. A considerable number of similar claims against other construction companies are going ahead in Manchester.
It seems that between April 2006 and February 2009 a variety of well known construction companies paid in total more than £450,000 for access to a blacklist of trade union member names. The list was run by an individual named Ian Kerr. The matter came to the attention of the Information Commissioner and resulted in prosecution of Mr Kerr who in May 2009 was fined £5,000 at Macclesfield magistrates court after pleading guilty to breaches of Data Protection law.
Now, following consultation, the government has published draft regulations to prohibit the compilation, use, sale or supply of blacklists containing details of trade union members and activists where the purpose is to discriminate against workers on grounds of trade union membership or trade union activities.
Rights will arise where a person is refused employment or subjected to a detriment for reasons relating to a blacklist, as well as where a person is unfairly dismissed for the same reason. The worker will be able to complain to an employment tribunal for compensation, or to a court for damages. Compensation is to be a minimum of £5,000. However, contrary to the government’s original proposals, the draft Employment Relations Act 1999 (Blacklists) Regulations do not provide for an employer’s use of information contained in an unlawful blacklist to be a criminal offence.