The European Parliament’s justice and civil liberties committee voted last night on reforms to EU data protection law. Labour managed to secure support for an amendment that states personal data cannot be used to put workers on a blacklist.
A new clause inserted into the EU’s draft data protection regulation makes clear discrimination based on trade union membership or activities is against the law.
Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour’s leader in Europe, added: “The blacklisting scandal saw hundreds of construction workers barred from employment just for raising legitimate health and safety concerns.
“Although we’ve always known blacklisting is illegal, so far none of the companies involved has been punished.
“Now the law is absolutely clear – using information on employees’ political beliefs or trade union membership to blacklist them is illegal, and governments must adopt appropriate sanctions to enforce this.”
Claude Moraes, Labour’s European spokesperson on justice and civil liberties, added: “The practice of blacklisting employees in the UK has been operating for decades and has devastating effects on reputations, livelihoods and families.
“Within this new legal framework on data protection we have managed to ensure information on someone’s trade union membership and activities is classed as extra sensitive data and therefore warrants greater protection.
“This amendment will ensure there is no doubt it is against the law to use this information to draw-up a blacklist, or to share a blacklist to help vet potential employees.”
In 2009 it was revealed more than 3,200 UK construction workers had been placed on a blacklist after raising health and safety concerns on building sites.
A database held by the Consulting Association recorded information on workers who were known to be trade union activists. Several major construction companies secretly shared information with the Consulting Association and used the blacklist to vet new recruits.
Many of the workers who were blacklisted have been unable to find work for years, yet up until now none of the companies involved have faced justice.