Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Comedian on builders' blacklist

Campaigning comedian Mark Thomas, who was on a building workers blacklist.

Comedian Mark Thomas has spoken of his anger after discovering his name on a blacklist drawn up for construction companies.

He said he was "shocked" to find that he had been included on secret files of thousands of mainly building workers. Most do not know they were on the list.

Thomas's name was found by the GMB union, which is pursuing compensation on behalf of a number of its members and others such as environmental activists.

The comedian said: "I wasn't massively surprised, but I was shocked. I don't work in the construction industry, although I have been involved in campaigns against the activities of building firms.

"But to include a comic in all of this is just nuts."

Thomas said he suspected the police colluded with construction firms to collect information.

He said: "This needs to be highlighted and the police should be held to account. There has to be a proper investigation, such as a parliamentary inquiry to make sure this kind of behaviour is outlawed."

His case is now being taken up by the GMB. Last week major construction firms announced plans to compensate workers on the blacklist.

The development followed years of campaigning by unions after it was discovered that more than 3,200 names of workers were kept on a file drawn up by the Consulting Association.

Workers involved said they were denied work for years, often merely for raising legitimate concerns about health and safety on building sites.

Chris Benson, from law firm Leigh Day, who is representing Mark Thomas and more than 100 GMB members, said: "We continue to receive huge amounts of files from the Information Commissioner's office on behalf of our clients, which documents the scale of this unlawful activity which took place against members of GMB and others who were kept on this blacklist, and whose livelihoods suffered through this illegal activity.

"Whilst the news that eight of the construction companies involved are considering a compensation scheme is positive, we continue to seek redress through the courts for those individuals whose lives were blighted by their name being on a list often for just speaking out about health and safety concerns, or, in the case of Mr Thomas, no reason whatsoever."

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