When it became clear after 2009 and the discovery of the Consulting Association blacklist that the Government would legislate on blacklisting, the union lobbied hard for effective legislation. UCATT commissioned a paper, called “Ruined Lives”, prepared by Professor Keith Ewing, which explained the background to the blacklisting debate and put forward a series of measures that would achieve justice for blacklisted workers. In addition to criminal liability for those who compile, pass on or use blacklists, the paper proposed a flat rate of compensation for everyone named on a blacklist.Cover of Ruined Lives Report.
It also suggested a compensatory award based on a reasonable estimate of projected loss of earnings for anyone who could show that he/she had applied for specific vacancies at the time that a company consulted the blacklist. Aggravated compensation should be awarded for injured feelings to those whose file was judged particularly offensive. Professor Ewing suggested that compensation could be funded by a levy on companies, which used the blacklist. The money raised could fund retrospective payments to all those blacklisted.
The Labour Government finally passed regulations against blacklisting in 2010. But these were a great disappointment. It is now unlawful to make and use a blacklist or to refuse employment or subject an employee to a detriment due to a blacklist entry. However, the law does not make blacklisting a criminal offence. Although blacklisting is described as unlawful, the regulations do not contain a freestanding right not to be blacklisted. They contain no right to compensation for being blacklisted.
That is why UCATT continues the fight against blacklisting – in the courts and in Parliament; in Britain and in Europe. It remains a fundamental tenet of trade unionism that union reps, campaigners, activists, whistleblowers and their like must be defended by their union and by the law against victimisation.
Guide: Blacklisting and public procurement
Our new guide seeks to assist UCATT members in lobbying to stop public contracts going to firms that have blacklisted workers and have not made up for it. Download the Blacklisting & Public Procurement Guide now.