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article imageBlacklist: UK construction workers fighting a job market ban

By Anne Sewell     Mar 25, 2012 in World
London - UK construction workers, struggling to find work, have now found that they are on an "employment blacklist", an illegal document which is ruining their lives.
Thousands of skilled construction workers have been struggling to find work for years. It now turns out that their names are on an "employment blacklist".
When a former union organiser, Steve Hedley was unexpectedly fired in 2004 and struggled to find new employment over the next 4 years, he was puzzled. Then a friend told him about a blacklist, which is currently held by a private company.
This blacklist is accessed by some of the UK's largest construction firms. When checking into this, he uncovered a 16-page file on himself.
Not only did this blacklisting prevent him from finding work, it also ruined his marriage. Going from earning a high salary as an experienced workman, to earning nothing had disastrous effects on his family life.
When talking to RT about the report, he says: “It goes into detail about how I was sacked, what my political activities were, what my trade union activities were, what part I was playing in the union. The employers were distributing this among themselves, and with this blacklisting organisation, barred not only me but other people from employment.”
Hedley says that much of the information in this file is clipped from union magazines and left-wing newspapers. But some of it comes from another source altogether - the police.
“I was in there, named as a participant on an anti-fascist demonstration. This information hasn’t come from the employers. It could only have come from the police. We don’t agree with employers keeping blacklists, it’s an illegal thing. But it opens up a whole new dimension when the state security forces are getting involved in this – it almost smacks of a police state,” says Hedley.
The company that held Hedley's file has since closed down but he and his colleagues believe there are more blacklists that have not yet been uncovered.
With construction work on a building site being one of the most dangerous jobs in the UK, and 50 deaths in the last year alone, many of the banned workers are saying that the reason they are on the blacklist is because they "blew the whistle" on poor safety and health standards. They had complained about the shortcuts the construction companies take to increase their profits.
Dave Smith from the Blacklist Support group says:
“It’s not something the beat bobby just happens to have found out and passed on this information, because why would they even know something like the Consulting Association even existed. I believe it’s at the most senior levels, taking place, colluding with the directors of multinational companies against people they don’t like because of our trade union activities, because we’ve raised concerns about unpaid wages, and health and safety and because they didn’t like our politics.”
The Blacklist Support Group says that they will fight until they know the extent of state security involvement in their persecution.
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