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Blacklisted workers complain to watchdog about police collusion

Construction workers will ask the Independent Police Complaints Commission to investigate allegations that the police supplied information about them to an industry blacklist, MPs have been told.

Dave Smith of the Blacklist Support Group, which represents some of the 3200 people on a blacklist used by major construction firms, said his group had instructed solicitors to make a complaint to the IPCC about police collusion in the blacklist.

Speaking to the Scottish affairs select committee yesterday he said that David Clancy, head of investigations for information commissioner’s office, had told an employment tribunal hearing Mr Smith’s claim against Carillion in January that some of the information in the files held by blacklisting organisation The Consulting Association could only have come from the police or security services.

Mr Smith mentioned an incident in which a teacher called Dan Gillman and three construction workers were spoken to by a police officer at an anti racism demonstration, which appears in the blacklisting files.

“How has that ended up in a blacklisting file about construction if it hasn’t come from some service?” he said. He believed the case might be linked to the presence of undercover police officers in protest groups, a practice that has been exposed by a national newspaper.

Mr Smith said: “Direction has been given by [home secretary] Teresa May that we should raise it with the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is something as a group we are doing with some files.”

He later told Construction News that the group had asked solicitors Christian Kahn to complain to the IPCC. MPs Michael Meacher and John McDonnell have previously called for a public inquiry into the issue.

Many of the people involved in the Blacklist Support Group are also preparing a high court claim against several of the construction firms that supplied information to the blacklist.

A report by trade union the GMB, published on Monday, said 2,863 people are still unaware they were blacklisted

Mr Smith told the select committee that he believed blacklisting was still going on now despite the closure of the Consulting Association in 2009 . He said: “Do I think blacklisting still goes on? Yes I do. Have I got absolute proof? No because it is very difficult [to get] and it is all done in secret.

“Do I have anecdotal evidence that safety representatives continue to be dismissed and trade union activists continue to be dismissed and cannot find work? Yes absolutely.” He mentioned a protest about blacklisting allegations on one of the Olympics projects and safety representatives at another company who he said had been victimised.

Mr Smith also said he planned to appeal his employment tribunal, which he lost because he was not directly employed by Carillion. He added that the 2010 regulations against blacklisting were “inadequate” and called for it to be made a criminal offence.

He added that construction workers were reluctant to report safety concerns for fear of blacklisting.

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