File seen by Building points to union complicity in providing information used to identify ’troublemakers’

A Unite official has accused his union of colluding with companies in the blacklisting of construction workers.

During a speech to Unite’s annual conference in Manchester last week, branch secretary Steve Acheson called for the union to investigate the role its officials played in blacklisting, and why private correspondence from members to union officials appeared in files held by Ian Kerr’s Consulting Association, which operated a blacklist for more than 15 years.

Acheson was one of the workers interviewed a year ago by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) during an investigation that led to the prosecution of Kerr, whose blacklist was paid for by leading contractors.

His accusation comes as a Consulting Association file on one electrician, seen by Building, states that he was “not recommended by amicus [sic]” for work on Heathrow’s Terminal 5 in 2005. Amicus merged with the T&G Union to form Unite in 2007.

The file also states the electrician was not “an activist” but was considered to be a risk to employ “because of his knowledge of his rights under the JIB [Joint Industry Board]”.

The electrician has since left the UK after being unable to get work on projects regulated by the electrical sector’s JIB.

Another file stated that information about one worker’s union activities had come from “a retired AEEU official” - which was the electricians’ union before it became Amicus - and contained details of correspondence between the worker and union officials.

Acheson’s claims come a week after the ICO said it was launching an inquiry into whether employers were operating a new blacklist.

A spokesperson for the ICO said: “The focus of our inquiry was the construction firms, not individual participation.”
Unite was unavailable for comment.