Tuesday, 14 September 2010

BLACKLISTED FILM FRINGE: Professor calls for action at European Court

ON the day that the TUC Conference moved a motion to fight to get the Government to outlaw blacklisting, a fringe meeting organised by the Manchester Campaign Against the Blacklist hosted a TUC fringe meeting and Film Premier that attracted close to 100 people at the Central Methodist Hall. The UCATT motion at the TUC Conference demanded that 'blacklisting be made a specific criminal offence' and the that workers have 'an automatic right to be informed, should a blacklist be discovered on which their name appears.' The Fringe Meeting ran a film in which victims of the blacklist were interviewed and shown campaigning against the practice.

Professor Keith Ewing, from the Institute of Employment Rights and author of the UCATT report 'Spoiled Lives' on the legal aspects of blacklisting, told the meeting that there ought to be a complaint to the International Labour Organisation (a UN body) that had in 1992 determined that the British Government was in breach of human rights in respect of the right someone to be a member of a trade union and that the evidence of blacklisting also made a case at the European Court of Human Rights now likely. He said that companies operating blacklists fell foul of Human Rights laws in two respects:
Article 8 provides a right to respect for privacy and this could only be set aside if the government could show it was 'necessary': and Pro. Ewing said in the case of blacklisting it would not be possible to show it was 'necessary'.
Article 11 provides a right to freedom of association: the evidence shows that the companies were using blacklisting to hinder freedom of association.
He said: breaches of the European Convention of Human Rights meant that people subject to the blacklist would be entitled to a remedy and compensation.

Some at the meeting criticised the length of time it would take to get all this through the legal process and others challenged the failures of the previous Labour Government to do anything serious about blacklisting or the anti-trade union laws. Even John McDonnell as a Labour MP was on the defensive saying that the previous Government hadn't been 'Labour' but had been 'New Labour'. Mr McDonnell characterised himself as 'Real Labour'. A newsletter 'Our Next Step' claiming to come from some 'northern syndicalists allied to the National Shop Stewards Network' was circulated at the meeting arguing that British trade unions should break with the Labour Party.

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