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UK – Security services implicated in agency worker blacklisting trial

05 March 2012

After an agency worker this year lost a case against a firm that blacklisted him for raising concerns over health and safety issues and for his active participation in a union, many more victims of such practices are expected to go to court in the hope of finding justice, The Guardian writes. 

Although the construction engineer Dave Smith was earlier this year told by the Central London Employment Tribunal that he was not entitled to legal protection against blacklisting because he was employed through a temporary agency, he has not given up the fight and is keen to take action against some 39 companies that have blacklisted workers.

The organisation that blacklisted workers for “causing trouble”, The Consulting Association, was shut down years ago but it has now come to light that security services must have been involved in providing information to the organisation. David Clancy, investigations manager at the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), gave evidence at court, saying that some of the information used to blacklist workers "could only be supplied by the police or the security services". The Information Commissioner’s Office is the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

“If managers on a building site don't like the fact that I am safety rep because it affects their profit and their deadlines, then I understand why they might do it. I disagree with it, I think it is wrong, but I can understand," Mr Smith told the Observer yesterday. "But for the police to be involved is appalling. This is the state linking up with big business basically, and any decent person in a civilised society would think it is appalling. This is about human rights. I have not done anything illegal, I am a member of a trade union. I have worked in an attempt to improve health and safety on building sites and yet it appears my employers, the state, security services and the police have been conspiring against me," he said. 

Although Mr Davis lost his tribunal, Carillion, the firm who originally hired him as a temporary worker, admitted that their managers had used a blacklist with private information about him. Mr Davis plans to go before the High Court to challenge the tribunal’s ruling. 

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