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A blacklisted UK construction worker employed through an agency does not have labour law protection
In the UK, a scandal regarding blacklisting of workers has been unfolded, following a report from the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee, in which it was revealed that 44 British construction companies have been involved in blacklisting practices, using the services of an organization called The Consulting Association (TCA). Several of these 44 companies were daughter companies to European multinational companies, operating all over Europe. The House of Commons report followed a previous inquiry into health and safety in Scotland. Accusations had been made that workers who raised health and safety concerns in the construction sector -the rate of fatal accidents in the workplace has been higher in Scotland than in the rest of the UK- were labelled “troublemakers” and likely to be denied further employment.

A trade union activist and safety rep, Dave Smith, has been repeatedly dismissed and refused work after having raised concerns about asbestos and poor health and safety conditions on London and Essex building sites controlled by Carillion companies. In a decision from the Employment Tribunal, and later from the Employment Appeal Tribunal in 2013, the claim for damages was rejected because Smith was an employment agency worker and not directly employed by Carillion. In a ruling issued on 17 January 2014, the UK High Court dismissed the claim for damages and upheld the decision from the Employment Tribunal, that Smith – although he had suffered from human rights violations – was not protected by UK employment law.

“The UK ruling highlights the precariousness of workers on the European labour market,” says Sam Hägglund, General Secretary of the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers, “when more and more workers are working under employment forms which do not protect their fundamental rights. It is not illegal to be a trade union member or to raise concern about asbestos at a workplace. The UK, and the rest of the European Union, should adapt their legislation to the fact that the Charter of Fundamental Rights is now a binding part of the EU Treaty, and therefore applicable to all workers, independently of employment status”.

Source: Hazards Magazine
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