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Support group lobbies EU to outlaw blacklisting

A delegation of trade unionists and safety representatives from the Blacklist Support Group has met with the EU commissioner for employment to discuss legislation to outlaw blacklisting.

The meeting with EU commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion László Andor was organised by MEPs Stephen Hughes and Glenis Willmott and took place in Brussels last week.

The delegation presented Mr Andor with evidence that their activities as union safety reps in the UK construction industry were kept on secret blacklist files.

The lobby group was established after more than 40 of the country’s biggest construction companies were accused by the government of subscribing to a confidential personal database to vet employees.

The blacklist, seized by the Information Commissioners Office in a raid on the Droitwich premises of the Consulting Association, contained personal information on 3,213 individuals, including personal relationships and union activity.

Mr Hughes said: “Blacklisting is a genuine issue which affects all member states and I will work with colleagues to address this serious concern and apply parliamentary pressure to trigger action.

“This meeting is the beginning, not the end, of a process. Once we have planted the seed with commissioner Andors, we will follow up with action in the European Parliament’s Employment Committee and the full Parliament. It will take time but we don’t give up easily.”

In November, Ashford Employment Tribunal ruled that Unite member Phil Willis had been unlawfully refused employment by CB&I because he is a member of a trade union and a prominent activist.

The lobby group say many of the blacklisted workers have faced repeated sackings and long-term unemployment for raising concerns about safety on building sites.

One of the delegation who attended the meeting, secretary of the Manchester contracting branch of Unite, Steve Acheson said: “I refuse to sit in my front room at home and turn into an old man, instead I choose to campaign on behalf of young workers in Poland, Spain, Greece, Ireland and any workers in Europe who are prepared to stand up for their basic human rights.”

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