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New rules to combat contractor blacklisting  

The Government plans new regulations to prevent the secret blacklisting of union members by construction firms.

In March the Information Commissioner reported that 40 construction companies had subscribed to a database used to vet construction workers. This has now been shut down under data protection law.

Business secretary Lord Mandelson said: “People should not be victimised at work or denied access to employment opportunities because of their trade union membership.

“Evidence from the Information Commissioner showed there was a problem. There is already legal protection against the misuse of people’s personal details. We now plan to strengthen the law by introducing new regulations to outlaw the compilation, dissemination and use of blacklists in this way,” he said.

Under the Employment Relations Act 1999, the government has the power to introduce regulations prohibiting the blacklisting of workers for their union membership or activities.

In 2003, the government consulted on draft regulations, but at that time no hard evidence was found that blacklisting was taking place. In response to the consultation, the government committed to reviewing the issue if hard evidence came forward.

The government will launch a consultation in the early summer on the proposed regulations. As there has already been a full consultation in 2003, this second consultation will be shorter than the usual twelve week period but will be necessary to ensure that the regulations take full account of developments since 2003.

Ministers plan to seek Parliamentary approval for the regulations in the autumn and implement them urgently as soon as it can thereafter.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

“It is outrageous that unscrupulous employers have been victimising trade unionists through shady blacklisting practices that have no place in a democratic society.

“I am glad that the Government is now consulting speedily on this issue which will, I hope, lead to quick and effective action to outlaw this utterly unacceptable practice.”

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