Construction workers in fresh 'blacklisting' action

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Construction workersImage source, Getty Images

New legal action is being taken on behalf of workers who say they were blacklisted by construction companies.

The union Unite is taking a case to the High Court after names were found in a file compiled by The Consulting Association, which was raided in 2009.

More than 3,000 people were on the blacklist, often for being a union member or for raising safety issues.

It comes as the Construction Skills Network says the sector is predicted to expand by 1.3% in the next five years.

'Public arena'

Previous court cases against building firms have led to millions of pounds of payments in compensation to 400 staff.

The blacklists had been used by dozens of construction firms to vet those applying for work on building sites.

Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: "Unite is totally committed to ensuring that the key individuals behind blacklisting workers are required to account for their crimes in the public arena of a court.

"This is the minimum that the affected workers deserve. They need to see those responsible in the dock and finally forced to account for their actions."

The blacklisting scandal came to light in 2009 following a raid by the information commissioner's office on an organisation called The Consulting Association which was based in Worcestershire.

It uncovered a list of more than 3,000 workers - which in some instances also included details of personal relationships.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail added that despite the raid a decade ago, contemporary blacklisting still existed.

"We are seeing blacklisting 'outsourced' to labour suppliers at the beck and call of large firms and acting as unaccountable instigators of union busting," she said.

The construction industry has previously accepted that for decades firms were involved in a secret vetting system which infringed workers' rights to confidentiality, privacy, reputation and data protection, but has denied the "blacklisting" charge.