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Government to legislate against employment blacklists of union members

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The Government has pledged to introduce regulations preventing union members from being blacklisted and denied employment.

This comes following news headlines in March about 40 construction companies that subscribed to a database giving them information about construction workers.

The database has since been closed under the Data Protection Act, but business secretary Peter Mandelson announced people should not be ‘victimised' or denied employment because of their involvement with trade unions.

He added: "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."

In 2003, the Government consulted on the same issue, but was unable to find hard evidence to show blacklisting was taking place. This is no longer the case so the new proposed consultation to revise regulations is expected to be shorter than the usual 12-week period.

The TUC is in support of the consultation process and its 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."

The announcement comes only days after the release of research from the TUC, finding union representatives to be ‘good citizens' - 8% of reps are school governors, and 5% are trustees or sit on the governing bodies of local organisations. Some 19% are volunteers in local community organisations such as sports or social clubs, and 20% spend up to five hours a week on community activities.