Tower Hamlets Council bans contracts for firms which blacklist workers

Len McCluskey

Len McCluskey - Credit: Archant

Companies guilty of the controversial practice of blacklisting workers will not be handed contracts by Tower Hamlets Council, it has been announced.

The local authority has become the first in the UK to impose such a ban after a motion was passed at a raucous full council meeting on yesterday evening.

Announcing the decision – which won unanimous support in the council chamber – Independent Mayor Lutfur Rahman said: “I am proud to say that not only does Tower Hamlets not have any contracts with the companies accused of this practice, but that on my watch it never will.”

Blacklisting is an illegal practice whereby workers – often trade union members – will not be hired by companies after raising concerns about workers’ rights and welfare.

Mr Rahman accused companies of using a “clandestine database to run illegal background checks and deny work to those perceived as union activists or agitators”.

The council’s decision to stop handing contracts to firms found guilty of blacklisting was backed by trade union Unite, which was recently handed a £64,000 grant by Mr Rahman for a new community centre in Shadwell.

Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey, said: “This is a fantastic development and we commend the council for their positive action. There is a momentum growing to outlaw blacklisting.

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“We are urging other councils to take note of the Tower Hamlets decision to ban the blacklisters and to follow suit.”

The council’s Labour group – as well as Tory, Liberal Democrat and Respect councillors – backed the motion.

Labour’s Cllr Rachael Saunders added that “this issue has been faced enough” for trade union members.