Len McCluskey, the leader of Unite, said the government's inquiry into unions should be re-directed at the cartel of 44 employers which colluded over decades to blacklist and destroy the lives of working people.
The call comes ahead of the TUC's day of action against blacklisting. Over four years have passed since 44 construction companies were exposed as blacklisters following a raid on the Consulting Association by the Information Commissioner. Today (20 November) protests will be held across the country, while unions will lobby the Westminster and Scottish parliaments. The unions are calling on the construction industry to Own Up, Clean Up, Pay Up.
Unite also believes that if employers are genuine about taking responsibility for their blacklisting activities there is one thing they can do now, without the need for lawyers, court cases or negotiations – they can give blacklisted workers a job now.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "The government's call for an inquiry into unions would be far better directed at the blacklisters who have destroyed the lives of thousands of working people for no reason other than being in a trade union. The Tories are shamefully diverting attention away from the real abuses of workers by unscrupulous bosses.
"Over the last 25 years, over 2,800 workers have lost their lives on construction sites, with countless others suffering from serious work-related health problems. Too many construction workers went to work but did not come home again.
"But the 44 blacklisters believed that many of the courageous and decent union representatives who wanted to support their colleagues and save lives were just trouble makers. Instead of being encouraged and supported, they were blacklisted and robbed of their dignity
- lives ruined, families destroyed - in some cases it even led to suicide.
"There is now a moral urgency for justice. Blacklisting is a scandal on the scale of phone hacking. Except it was ordinary working people whose lives have been torn apart by a conspiracy hatched by a greedy elite who were prepared to go to any length to attack decent hardworking men and women. It is time they owned up, cleaned up and paid up.
"While the government continues its demonisation of trade unions we will continue the very real task of giving the best legal and industrial representation to members who have been dehumanised by employers."
Unite has just issued its first tranche of five High Court proceedings against employers with 45 more High Court cases to follow. The union has issued proceedings against employers including Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, Balfour Beatty, Crown House Technologies, Skanska, Kier and Laing O’Rourke.
The unions want the blacklisters to 'Own Up’ and accept responsibility for what they have done in the past. They also need to ‘Clean Up’ and ensure that it does not happen again by having transparent recruitment procedures that are agreed with trade unions and properly monitored.
Then they must ‘Pay Up’ and compensate all those who have suffered as a result of their actions. Many of those who were blacklisted were unable to work in the industry again had years of unemployment. They deserve compensation.
Contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315
Notes to editors: