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Damages sought for worker blacklist

A union is to lodge claims in the High Court for compensation on behalf of construction workers whose names were discovered on a blacklist.

The GMB said many workers had their reputation and job prospects "destroyed", often for simply raising questions about health and safety issues on building sites.

The union is taking legal action on behalf of 70 of its members, including claims of defamation, with many further cases set to follow.

Blacklisting was revealed in 2009 when the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) seized a database of 3,213 names of construction workers and environmental activists used by over 40 companies.

The blacklist was drawn up by the Consulting Association, which has since been closed down, but most workers on the list still don't know they were on it.

Maria Ludkin, the GMB's legal officer, said: "GMB is pleased to be the first union to bring this wide-ranging High Court action on behalf of our members.

"Finally construction companies will be called to account for their systematic campaign to wipe out union organisation on construction sites. This is only the tip of the iceberg. There are nearly 3,000 other workers with claims.

"The ICO needs to start acting like a serious regulator and let these victims know so that they can join this claim for damages."

Michael Newman, from law firm Leigh Day, which is involved in the legal case, said: "We are absolutely confident that the High Court will find that substantial compensation and damages are due from the construction industry for what was effectively a black market in destroying workers' reputations and job prospects.

"Not only was this database hidden, but much of the information on it was irrelevant or just plain wrong. This didn't stop companies from trying to profit from blacklisting though, by keeping union workers off projects so they could meet project deadlines, regardless of concerns about health and safety, or working conditions."

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