Behind closed doors large firms compiled a clandestine list of workers whom they believed were “trouble-makers” of some sort. Trade unionists were denied jobs if their names appeared on the list.
Of course, the workers knew nothing about this sub rosa vetting and were unable to challenge it. Many files were inaccurate.
Far from disappearing, another blacklisting agency – operating from a nondescript office in Droitwich under an innocuous name, the Consulting Association – was surreptitiously set up, financed by the construction industry.
In a searing account this book – “Blacklisted : the secret war between big business and union activists” – tells the story of how the blacklisters kept files on individual workers. The minutiae of their trade union and political activities were noted down. Many of the trade unionists had raised concerns about hazards on construction sites.
One of the authors is Phil Chamberlain – the journalist who wrote the original Guardian story and has followed the story ever since.
His co-author, Dave Smith, is one of the blacklisted workers who found he could not get work as an engineer during a building boom.
They burn with rage at the injustice of workers denied jobs for long periods by the well-remunerated powerful directors of multinational firms – who have yet to be held fully to account.