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Unions call for blacklisting to be made a criminal offence

The blacklisting of workers should be made a criminal offence punishable by jail and unlimited fines, trade unions have said.

The call follows an announcement by the TUC that there will be a national day of action in support of workers who have been blacklisted.

Blacklisting was discovered in 2009 when thousands of names, mainly construction workers, were found on a list held by the Consulting Association when its offices were raided by the Government's data watchdog.

Unions claim that workers have been denied employment, often for raising health and safety issues or for being union activists.

The TUC is unhappy that companies who have blacklisted workers have still not been held accountable.

The protest will be held around the country on the 20 November, where unions will renew calls for a Leveson-style inquiry into the issue.

Speaking at the TUC annual conference in Bournemouth, its general secretary, Frances O'Grady, said blacklisting had to be "stamped out once and for all".

"Blacklisting is a shameful practice that has no place in a modern society. It causes misery for those blacklisted and their families and it puts lives at risk," said O'Grady.

"The Government cannot sit on the fence any longer. Blacklisting must be made a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment and an unlimited fine."

"It is essential that companies who have blacklisted workers own up, clean up and pay up," O'Grady said.

The TUC also said all companies must be asked if they have ever complied, used, sold or supplied information that could be used for blacklisting.

It said if they refuse to comply and compensate victims, if they have engaged in blacklisting, then they should be barred from bidding for any public sector contracts.