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TUC campaign against blacklisting

TUC campaign against blacklisting


3 September 2013

Own up, clean up, pay up:

Intimidation on an industrial scale. Review of Blacklisted by Michelle Stanistreet  - Morning Star (June 2015)

Police ‘covered up’ links with union blacklisting - The Guardian (November 2014)
Leaked minutes show senior officer met group targeting union activists

Legal challenge - collective action by NUJ members

Six NUJ members have discovered that their lawful journalistic and union activities are being monitored and recorded by the Metropolitan Police. They are now taking legal action against the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and the Home Secretary to challenge this ongoing police surveillance (November 2014)

The NUJ members involved in the legal challenge include Jules Mattsson, Mark Thomas, Jason Parkinson, Jess Hurd, David Hoffman and Adrian Arbib.

All of them have worked on media reports that have exposed corporate and state misconduct and they have each also previously pursued litigation or complaints arising from police misconduct. In many of those cases, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner has been forced to pay damages, apologise and admit liability to them after their journalistic rights were curtailed by his officers at public events.

Read the NUJ press release launching the case (Friday 21 November 2014).

Met's journalist files include details of sexual orientation, childhood and family medical history - Jules Mattsson
Times journalist Jules Mattsson is one of six members of the NUJ to launch a legal challenge against the Metropolitan Police after finding that it keeps surveillance files on them in a database of Domestic Extremism.

When police spy on journalists like me, freedom is at risk - Jason N Parkinson
Persistent requests under the Data Protection Act revealed that files were kept on journalists who were simply doing their job

IFJ backs legal challenge by journalists over police surveillance in UK
The International Federation of Journalists has joined in supporting six NUJ members who have taken legal action against the Metropolitan Police and the Home Secretary. The legal challenge concerns the monitoring and recording of their lawful journalistic and union activities.

TUC national day of action 2013

NUJ general secretary calls for action on blacklisting and surveillance of Journalists:

The national day of action on blacklisting is a hugely important day for trade unionists. All around the UK, events are taking place to collectively protest against endemic blacklisting in the construction industry and elsewhere, that has led to thousands of trade unionists – individuals like many NUJ members and reps who stick up for their colleagues and enforce basic health and safety requirements – lose their livelihoods.

The NUJ is part of the TUC’s campaign to call for a full public inquiry about blacklisting – and certainly not for such an important issue to be tagged on to a kneejerk, politically motivated trade union-bashing inquiry initiated by the Tories in recent days.

Members of the NUJ have discovered that their name was one on the blacklist drawn up for construction companies – a list commonly believed to the tip of the iceberg. Anyone who believes it is possible they are on the list should contact the Information Commissioner to make a subject access request.

The NUJ has launched a campaign to find out exactly what information the authorities are holding about journalists – to do so we need your help.

As well as finding out he was on the construction industry blacklist as a result of his campaigning work, NUJ member, journalist and comedian Mark Thomas discovered the extent of how the police have also monitored his work and movement when he made a subject access request under the Data Protection Act to find out what information the Metropolitan Police was holding about him on the so-called domestic extremism database. Mark explains the surreal and disturbing level of this surveillance in his piece launching our NUJ campaign today.

Journalistic activities are under particular scrutiny and state interference as recent events on the David Miranda case shows. On a day to day basis, members are being stopped at borders and hassled by police – simply for being journalists trying to carry out their work.

As well as Mark, we are aware of some other journalists who are on the domestic extremism database – an initiative ran by the same unit responsible for the use of dead babies’ identities by its undercover officers, and for police forming relationships with the female protestors they were monitoring. Given that the police have admitted monitoring nearly 9,000 individuals it is likely other NUJ members will be on the list.

The NUJ is supporting Mark in a legal challenge to challenge this police policy and to demand the deletion of files held on journalists, and we want as many other members as possible to find out what information the Met is holding.

Shamik Dutta of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors is acting for the NUJ in Mark’s case – find out more about the database and why we are challenging this improper surveillance in this legal Q&A.

To make a request for the information about you held by the police complete this template letter.

The NUJ will convene a meeting to update members on the legal challenge and the next steps of the campaign in March 2014. Please take part in this important campaign by making your application today – when you get a response, make sure you email a copy to us at so our legal team can review your case.

Background information:

In September 2013, TUC Congress passed a motion calling for blacklisting to be made a criminal offence and for a full public inquiry.

The TUC has made an announcement about the day of action (8 September 2013).

Press reports:

Campaign in parliament:

There is an ongoing parliamentary investigation into blacklisting and in May 2012 the Scottish affairs committee heard evidence from anti-blacklisting campaigner and former MP, Maria Fyfe, on the blacklisting of workers, particularly in the construction industry.

The inquiry has been examining the extent of the problem in Scotland and what is being done to eradicate it. Its findings so far have raised a series of complex questions, particularly about compensation, which the committee will consider in the next phase of its inquiry before making its final recommendations to government.

Find out more about the campaign in parliament.

Campaign in Wales:

Wales has become the first country to ban blacklisting firms from bidding for public contracts. The Welsh Assembly passed a motion about blacklisting and official guidance has been sent out by the Welsh government to 103 public bodies whose staff are responsible for procurement.

Steve Barley, blacklisted Welsh electrician and blacklist support group spokesperson, said:

"Thousands of building workers have been victimised and blacklisted for standing up for our legal rights. At last in Wales we are showing solidarity, via our Assembly, that we will not tolerate this persecution of workers."

Campaign in Scotland:

A motion has been submitted to Scottish parliament on the reinstatement of sacked shop steward, Frank Morris.

motion number: S4M-07593

lodged by: Neil Findlay

date lodged: 05/09/2013

Crossrail agreement on blacklisting and trade union rights

That the Parliament acknowledges the agreement between Unite and the three main Crossrail contractors, Royal BAM, Ferrovial and Kier, to resolve the blacklisting dispute on the Crossrail project;

understands that the Unite campaign, which began in September 2012, was based on what the union believed to be compelling evidence of blacklisting by senior HR managers on the Crossrail project, when the Unite shop steward, Frank Morris, and 27 others working for an electrical sub-contractor, EIS, lost their jobs shortly after Mr Morris raised health and safety concerns;

understands that the agreement will ensure the reinstatement of Frank Morris and union recognition for the first time on the £16 billion, publicly-funded rail infrastructure project, as well as allowing Unite representatives to speak to all new Crossrail workers during the induction process before they enter any Crossrail construction site;

believes that this outcome preceded by the Unite campaign once again shows the value of trade union organisation and united action;

believes it to be a warning to any company that may consider using a blacklist in future;

suggests that, while it considers that this has been a successful conclusion to the Crossrail campaign, the fight for justice for blacklisted workers continues;

commends the Scottish Affairs Select Committee for what it sees as its effective investigations thus far and looks forward to further forensic scrutiny, and hopes that the Scottish Government will include meaningful protection against blacklisting in the public procurement process to ensure that companies that continue the practice are excluded from tendering for public contracts.

Sacked Crossrail electrician Frank Morris reinstated, BBC news (3 September 2013)

More information:

Hazards magazine publishes a blacklist blog.

Tags: , blacklisting, trade union freedom, tuc, comedy, law


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