David Martin MEP

Labour Member of the European Parliament and one of the six MEPs representing Scotland in Brussels and Strasbourg

Labour MEPs vote to make anti-union discrimination and blacklisting illegal

Across Europe, it will be illegal to blacklist workers or discriminate on the grounds of trade union membership or activities, after Labour MEPs voted for key data protection legislation today.

The move comes after it was revealed that thousands of construction workers had been placed on an industry blacklist due to their involvement with trade unions.

David Martin, Scotland’s senior MEP, said:

"The practice of blacklisting workers in Scotland has been operating for decades and has seen countless construction workers barred from employment on account of their trade union activity, many just for raising legitimate health and safety concerns.

"Now the law is absolutely clear that using information on employees' political beliefs or trade union membership to blacklist them is illegal, and that Member States must adopt appropriate sanctions to enforce this."

The blacklisting scandal first came to light in 2009, when a raid on the Consulting Association uncovered a database containing information on workers who were known to be trade union activists.  Several major construction companies secretly shared information with the Consulting Association and used the blacklist to vet new recruits.

Mr Martin, himself a trade unionist, added:

"I supported amendments to the data protection law that say information on someone's trade union membership or activity is 'sensitive information' which warrants greater protection.

"The amendment adopted states it is against the law to use this information to create or share a blacklist to help vet potential employees.

"We've always known that blacklisting is illegal and I've been campaigning on the issue for several years, yet so far none of the companies involved has faced justice."

Other measures voted through today include a new ‘right to erasure’, giving individuals the right to obtain any personal data relating to them, including the right to erase any third party links to, copies or replication of data.

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