Connected Research

Union policy research in the 21st century

BIS to consult on blacklisting of trade unionists

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BIS, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills headed by Lord Mandelson, has announced a short consultation on regulations that, it says, will outlaw the practice of employer blacklisting of trade unionists.

The practice was the subject of a debate at this year’s Connect Biennial Conference, which passed a motion calling on the Executive Council to ‘Press for a ban on all UK employment blacklists and press for severe penalties for UK employers using any foreign blacklisting service.’

The consultation starts from the principle that ‘The Government believes that trade unions, and those who belong to them and participate in their activities, play a legitimate role in any democratic society. It believes that the blacklisting of trade unionists should have no place in the conduct of employment relations in this country’. The Regulations being consulted on now are an amended version of a set that had previously been consulted on in 2003 but then held in abeyance. The reason for moving to implementation now is specifically the activities of The Consulting Association, earlier this year the target of an inquiry by the Information Commissioner.

The Regulations will:

– define what amounts to a blacklist of trade unionists and prohibit their compilation, dissemination and use

– make it unlawful for organisations to refuse employment, to dismiss an employee or otherwise cause detriment to a worker for a reason related to a blacklist

– make it unlawful for an employment agency to refuse a service to a worker for a reason related to a blacklist

– provide for the employment tribunal to hear complaints about alleged breaches and award remedies based on existing trade union law

– provide (as an alternative) for the courts to hear complaints from any persons that they have suffered loss or potential loss because of a prohibited blacklisting activity.

The consultation, which can be accessed here, runs until 18 August – a short consultation expressly because BIS is convinced of the need to act quickly. BIS has specifically sent the consultation to all UK trade unions with a view to introducing regulations ‘at the earliest opportunity’.

Brendan Barber, for the TUC, has welcomed the consultation, commenting: ‘It is vital that the introduction of new regulations is treated as a priority, to prevent the profoundly undemocratic practice of discrimination against those who choose to join unions.’

Of course, and subject to a thorough examination of the detail, Connected Research votes aye.

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Written by Calvin

08/07/2009 at 1:18 pm

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