Blacklisting of Construction Workers

Update on Blacklisting of Construction Workers

The Background

In March 2009 the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) raided the offices of the Consultation Association and seized files containing the names of over 3,000 blacklisted construction workers. The purpose of the blacklist was to allow construction companies to make enquiries about prospective employees.

Founded by Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd the Consulting Association held a database of workers with union or political affiliations.[1]  Workers who were blacklisted were unable to find work as a result and were therefore effectively subjected to discrimination.  Worse still, those who were listed had no way of knowing that they were on any sort of a blacklist, although many would have suspected that one existed when they were turned down for roles within the industry.  Perhaps most alarmingly, it emerged at the time that more than forty construction firms had used the list.

What’s new?

In its ongoing bid to redress the injustice suffered by workers whose names appeared on the files held by the Consulting Association, the ICO is this month sending letters to construction workers whose names appear on the blacklist.  As many as 1,200 letters will be sent this week to workers who can be identified through their national insurance numbers or who have retained the same address that appeared on the files as the Consulting Association.

What is the ICO?

The ICO was set up to uphold information rights in the public interest.   Its aim is to promote openness by public bodies and protect the data of private individuals. The ICO oversees the follwing pieces of legislation

  • Data Protection Act 1998
  • Freedom of Information Act 2000
  • Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003
  • Environmental Information Regulations 2004
  • INSPIRE Regulations 2009

It has a number of means of enforcement at its disposal ranging from issuing information notices to launching criminal prosecutions.

What to  do if you believe that you have been blacklisted

If you think that your name might appear on a blacklist seized by the ICO you can telephone them on  0303 123 1113 and they will check to see if you appear in the information that they hold.   You will be asked to submit proof of identification, address and National Insurance number by post or email before they will check your details.