LISA NANDY MP - Scandal of blacklisting

This week delegates from Wigan travelled to Parliament to hear MPs debate the national scandal of blacklisting, where a database of 3,000 names used to vet workers in the construction sector has been in operation for more than 15 years.

More than 40 construction companies have used the blacklist to deny people employment for reasons such as being a member of a trade union or having raised health and safety concerns.

Labour forced the debate to call for action to stop the blacklisting of workers and prevent the scandal ever being repeated.

Extensive personal information on individuals and their families has been held, and yet many of these people do not know they were even on the list.

Those that do know they have been blacklisted have never had the opportunity to challenge the claims against them or to seek redress.

We only have firm evidence of the existence of the list because of a raid by the Information Commissioner’s Office back in 2009.

Serious questions remain, which still need to be answered, about why officials did not seize a huge volume of other documents found at the scene of the original 2009 raid, and why they failed to follow up the raid with searches of construction firms known to have used the blacklist.

Labour called for the Information Commissioner to be more pro-active about informing victims of blacklisting so that they can seek compensation.

That is only fair when in so many cases blacklisting has blighted the lives of the workers and their families by denying them employment.

Sadly, blacklisting is still with us. There are allegations that blacklisting took place on Olympic construction sites and public building projects such as Crossrail.

At recent Select Committee hearings into blacklisting, concerns were raised that there may have been collusion by police officers and security services in the compilation of blacklists.

It has also been alleged that a blacklist of environmental activists was compiled.

We must have a full investigation into these blacklisting allegations and Ministers must make sure this scandal is never again repeated.

Unfortunately the Government did not commit to a full investigation during the debate, despite repeated calls.

It is shameful that workers –including those in Wigan – have had their livelihoods destroyed, their reputations tarnished, and in some cases their families torn apart because they were being responsible by raising health and safety concerns or were a member of trade union. People should not be denied employment just because they tried to ensure fairness and justice at work.