Blacklists redux… July 30, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, The Left.
Reading this it is heartening to see that finally some degree of justice may be afforded those who were ‘blacklisted’ in the UK. A claim is being taken against ’industry giant Sir Robert McAlpine, Tory donor and builder of the Olympic Stadium’. As the Guardian notes:
The claim involves 86 of 3,400 workers in the files of the Consulting Association, a covert organisation paid by big names in the industry to collect damaging information on workers regarded as leftwing or troublesome. The files included information about trade union membership, relationships, friendships and political views, along with surveillance intelligence.
The claim argues that the activities of the CA were ‘unlawful’. And note the following:
The Information Commissioner’s Office said at Smith’s tribunal that it believed some of the information held by the covert organisation and accessible to companies that subscribed to the service “could only have been supplied by the police or the security services”.
It is this that underlines the point – albeit in the starkest possible way – that employments are far from neutral environments where capital and labour can operate in harmony, but instead are shaped and dictated by the former to their own ends. I’ve asked the question before but it is worth reiterating. Imagine for a moment a left wing or labour organisation that sought to do what the Information Commissioner’s Office has said the CA has done. What would the stance of the security services be on that. The idea that police or security services would supply information to such an entity is laughable.
And it’s not simply about workers rights, albeit those have a centrality to the issue that is hard to overlook. As the Guardian notes:
The Consulting Association, a clandestine organisation funded by major names in the construction industry, was run by Ian Kerr for more than 30 years. Its database was seized nearly three years ago, but the extraordinary nature of the information it held only fully emerged following a recent employment tribunal for one of the victims, Dave Smith, 46, an engineer who had a 36-page file against his name and was repeatedly victimised for highlighting safety hazards on sites, including the presence of asbestos.
That latter is a clear public interest issue. But then it is all a public interest issue.
Many thanks, by the way, to Jim Monaghan for alerting me to this follow up.