Saturday, 21 November 2009

Today's Guardian - Boys From The Blacklist

Following up on his original story of over two years ago that brought the blacklist in the British building trade to widespread public attention, today investigative journalist, Phil Chamberlain, splashed another report across the front of the 'WORK' insert of today's Guardian.  In it he quoted Bacup electrician, Colin Trousdale, who has only had eight weeks work since last December and is now on the dole, as saying:  'I can only think [it is] because I've raised health and safety concerns - and remember this is an industry in which 53 people died last year - I'm affecting profits and they don't want me doing that.'  Colin Trousdale is a highly qualified spark with one fatal flaw in that he comes originally from Crumpsall, in Manchester, and in common with folk from round there has a habit of speaking his own mind.

Will the likes of him get more protection under the new laws against discrimination at work now being proposed by Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary?  Research by Professor Keith Ewing, from the Institute of Employment Rights, suggests he may still be struggling:  such as under the proposed new law he, and others, will still have no right not to be blacklisted as it does not make blacklisting a criminal offence and it puts the onus on the victim to bring a case; also the definition "trade union activity" is tightly drawn in so far as spying information data on other actions could be lawfully collected and held.

The building union UCATT, that commissioned Professor Ewing and is supporting the Campaign Against the Blacklist demo outside the Manchester Employment Tribunal at Alexandra House in Parsonage Gardens on the 24th, Nov. at 9am, through its own blacklisted General Secretary, Alan Ritchie said:  'The regulations need to be stronger in order to eradicate blacklisting'.  He added:  'For example, many of those blacklisted were due to health and safety issues, therefore the regulations should cover all activities associated with trade unions.'   Alan Ritchie told the Guardian:  'These scandals have thrown into sharp focus that the UK construction industry is not fit for purpose in the way it operates.'  Mr Ritchie also claims:  '...many of the biggest blacklisters were multi-national corporations, and their international boards have been shocked at what was happening... we are seeing personal changes at senior level and different approaches to work because of the scandal.'

Meanwhile, Colin Trousdale declared to the jounalist Phil Chamberlain:  'I am not interested in the money, I am just interested in getting back to work.'

NB - you can read Phil Chamberlain's blog about the article and the wider issues here, and all of his blogs on the subject of blacklisting here.

Colin Trousdale, who has long been an avid reader of Northern Voices, has agreed to do an interview with us in our next issue in the New Year.

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