BLACKLISTING construction firms have defended themselves against criticism after they acquired the names and addresses of workers whose lives they ruined.
Unions reacted angrily to news last month that companies behind a controversial compensation scheme had gotten their hands on the details of blacklisted workers.
Using a court order, they obtained the secret 3,000-person database from Britain’s data watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The blacklist, held by clandestine organisation The Consulting Association, was used to keep “troublemakers” out of work, including those with trade union links.
One union likened the move to “giving a burglar your new address so that they can come round and rob you again”.
But the firms, which include Irish-run company Laing O’Rourke, have now clarified that they do not have up-to-date addresses for all the construction workers on the list.
A spokesperson said: “We understand that the ICO has recently been able to source current addresses for many individuals whose names may have been on The Consulting Association records; The Construction Workers Compensation Scheme does not currently have those contact details.”
However, unions remain concerned that the data given to the firms could be used to contact hundreds of workers whose addresses remain unchanged.
Branding the information transfer “mad”, the Unite union’s assistant general secretary raised concerns that the details could be used to kick-start the compensation scheme without union agreement.
“They should not have this information because they are the blacklisters,” Gail Cartmail told The Irish Post.
“Why would you give the names and addresses of blacklisted workers to the companies that blacklisted them until and unless you knew those companies were genuinely contrite and genuinely owning up to self-cleaning?”
MPs have ordered the 44 companies involved in blacklisting to engage in “self-cleaning” by admitting their guilt and paying full compensation.
Ms Cartmail added that in its current state, the redress scheme being drawn up by eight of the firms “is not fit for purpose”.
A spokesperson for the scheme said it is still trying to reach agreement with unions and other workers’ representatives
“We believe that in the interest of maintaining a constructive dialogue, the precise nature of these discussions should be confidential at the moment,” she added.