Labour conference delegates back motion criticising blacklisting in the construction industry

Electricians protest at Blackfriars Station

Delegates at the Labour Party conference in Manchester have voted unanimously in favour of a motion which is heavily critical of a range of contractors for their alleged participation in the blacklisting of union workers.

The motion over employment rights was passed by a unanimous show of hands in the main conference auditorium yesterday.

The criticism of five specific named contractors for participation in blacklisting was included in the motion, despite the fact that two of the five have not existed as independent companies for at least five years.

The motion also criticised the Information Commissioner for failing to contact those workers named on the blacklist, which relates to the 40 firms found to have paid an annual fee to a firm known as the Consulting Association for access to 3,213 workers’ union histories, personal relationship information and employment records.

This was uncovered by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after it raided the organisation’s offices in 2009. The GMB is preparing a class action law suit against construction firms on behalf of workers in relation to blacklisting.

The reference to the contractors was contained in a composite motion which heavily criticised measures launched by the business secretary Vince Cable last week to take forward measures in the report by Adrian Beecroft on employment rights.

The motion said: “These proposals are ideologically driven… This attack sends a clear message to those employers who already have a cavalier disregard for workers’ rights.

“This is demonstrated by the failure of the Information Commissioner to take effective action on behalf of thousands of employees who were blacklisted by over 40 UK companies within their report including Carillion, Balfour Beatty, Mowlem, Laing O’Rourke and Wimpey.”

Mowlem was bought by Carillion in 2006 and Wimpey merged with Taylor Woodrow in 2007.

Despite the unanimous vote, the motion does not automatically become policy, but informs the creation of policy for Labour’s next manifesto.

Last month Building revealed that the ICO has agreed to allow lawyers acting for the GMB to view the list and identify its members. The ICO said it was also examining the “practicalities” of contacting people on the list.