Friday, March 06, 2009

What should be done about witch hunters?

It's good news that the Information Commissioner is closing down a company running an illegal service to enable construction sector employers to avoid employing union activists.

There's nothing new about employers cooperating to keep such information - the Economic League did so for most of the twentieth century.

When the Economic League was finished off in the early 90s it would now appear that its most active customers in the construction sector found an alternative.

The company will close, but what about its customers?

How many managers in the customers of this organisation knew what they were doing and that they were breaking the law? How many will be disciplined or dismissed for this deliberate law breaking?

UNISON's often low paid public service members are subject to all sorts of Codes of Practice and - in the past year - I have represented workers sacked for breaking laws quite unrelated to their job.

If only they had been well paid HR managers deliberately breaking the law to wreck the lives of good trade unionists. They would still be at work today.

Update on Friday evening you can read interesting comment from Gregor Gall and Dave Osler online.

We need to articulate some demands in response to this news, and to the increase in victimisation of trade union activists. How about compensation from the construction industry for those on the covert database? An increase in resources for enforcement of data protection legislation? Reversing the burden of proof in trade union victimisation cases so that employers have to prove, if disciplining a representative, that they are not victimising them?

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