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Oil rig workers placed on blacklists, claim unions

Unions claim rig workers have been placed on blacklists. Picture: TSPL

Unions claim rig workers have been placed on blacklists. Picture: TSPL

  • by ALAN JONES
 

OFFSHORE workers have been included on a secret blacklist of thousands of mainly construction staff which may have “blighted” their careers, it has been claimed.

Unions are pursuing legal action on behalf of their members in a bid to win compensation as a result of the scandal, with a High Court hearing due in April.

A secret file was discovered during a raid by the Information Commissioner’s Office in 2009 on the Consulting Association, which compiled a list of over 3,200 workers on behalf of construction firms.

Most of the names involved building workers, although it emerged this year that environmental campaigners – and comedian Mark Thomas – were also included.

The name of a train driver has also been found on the blacklist, sources have said. Unions have called for a Leveson-style inquiry into the blacklisting of so many workers, sometimes for merely raising health and safety concerns on building sites.

Blacklisting is the term used to describe the practice of firms using, compiling, selling or supplying details of union members in order to discriminate against them. Now the Rail Maritime and Transport union has called on the Information Commissioner to launch a fresh examination of the records to establish how many people outside the construction industry were blacklisted.

General secretary Bob Crow said: “RMT has every reason to believe that there are many more names on the blacklisting files that are still being held under wraps and that includes workers in both the rail and offshore industries. Until the full facts are disclosed, we simply do not know how many of our members have had their lives and careers blighted by a political and industrial conspiracy at the very highest level.”

The GMB, Unite and Ucatt are taking legal action on behalf of construction workers, many of whom fear they have been denied employment because their names were on the list.

A group of construction firms announced in October that they were setting up a scheme to compensate workers whose names were on the blacklist. Law firm Guney, Clark & Ryan is also taking legal action on behalf of workers.

Maria Ludkin, legal officer of the GMB, said its cases are progressing in the High Court. She added: “We are keeping lines of communication open with the compensation scheme, and no doubt if they have a serious offer to make, we will engage in serious talks.”

In Scotland, the SNP government has published guidelines to stop the blacklisting of workers involved in public contracts which are likely to become statutory in the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill going through Parliament.

The new rules mean companies bidding for work must disclose whether they have been involved in the illegal practice and, if so, they must show that “remedial action” has been taken. Companies found to have breached laws against blacklisting could also have their contracts terminated.

 

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