“The guilty should be brought to justice” – union blacklist baron grilled by Parliament

Ian Kerr, who ran the trade union blacklist, dished the dirt on his company’s activities in evidence to the Scottish affairs committee in Parliament today.


Consulting Association chief executive Ian Kerr, who ran the trade union blacklist, dished the dirt on his company’s activities in evidence to the Scottish affairs committee in Parliament today.

The activities include providing names and details of trade union members and “troublemakers” to enable corporate giants to exclude workers from employment on some of the country’s major projects.

The construction projects include the Olympics site, road and rail contracts, new shopping centres, media hubs, Wembley Stadium and various other government contracts.

Mr Kerr, a former primary school teacher, told MPs the Consulting Association (CA) was set up with the aid of the Economic League – leading construction firms including Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd. The construction giant chaired the group at the beginning, according to his testimony.

Construction companies paid an annual subscription fee and records were kept by the CA which Kerr facilitated as the Association’s chief executive. But he maintains the list was not a blacklist as it was not “automatic” people would be excluded, suggesting instead files kept on thousands of workers were merely for information exchange purposes.

Kerr was fined £5,000 after pleading guilty to offences under the Data Protection Act following raids on his office by the Information Commmissioner’s Office in 2009. Information was held on more than 3,000 construction workers and more than 40 contractors and companies were using Mr Kerr’s service.

During his grilling, an uncomfortable Mr Kerr – who was on £50,000 working for the Consulting Association – did admit all the information contained of each individual worker “implied criticism” of each one.

One MP said:

“You were working with companies to weed out people you did not want.”

Kerr replied:

“Yes that is right.”

The MP added:

“Were companies more likely not to employ the staff if they were on the list?”

Kerr answered:

“That is the case yes.”

He then went on to justify the list because of the “problems in the industry” workers who were members of the “Communist Party, Socialist Worker Party and Militant Tendancy”.

Kerr claimed:

“They impeded the job getting done to a proper timescale.”

Hundreds of construction workers who have been unable to get work in the industry for years – despite labour shortages and being qualified – say the information on their union activity allowed employers to discriminate against them. Many claim to have not been “militants” but former health and safety representatives on sites.

However, several trade union activists who took part in left wing political meetings outside of work claim political and personal information could have only been obtained by collusion with the security services.

Blacklisted worker and spokesman for the Blacklist Support Group, Steve Acheson, said:

That man [Mr Kerr] has ruined my life.

“The secret files the Consulting Association kept on me were used to unfairly dismiss me on job after job for no more than raising genuine safety issues such as drying facilities and Weils Disease caused by rats urine.”

Mr Acheson, whose Blacklist Support Group has been nominated for the Liberty Human Rights Award for their campaigning against blacklisting, said he believed Kerr to be a “criminal”.

He added:

“But he was only the foot soldier for the directors of multi-national construction firms.

“The select committee should demand that he names names. Who were the senior industry figures that paid his wages and orchestrated this vile conspiracy? What was the involvement of the police and corrupt trade union officials?

“Whether they are from big business, the state or the unions: the guilty should be brought to justice.”

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4 Responses to ““The guilty should be brought to justice” – union blacklist baron grilled by Parliament”

  1. Derk Aderkaderk

    Shameless,guess we’re heading in the same direction as South America,when the crisis escalates is it only a matter of time before they start firing at union organizer?



    I applaud Ian Davidson and his Scottish Select Committe (SCC) in the sterling work they are doing on this VILE Blacklisting debacle ,which,in my view is worse than the Levison Telephone Hacking.

    Unfortunately, Ian Kerr is just a fall man or the Barons at Balfour Beatty,Carillion,Macalpine etc.

    Public safety has been knowing and wilfully compromised at HUNDREDS of Construction sites whilst the Barons proffer lip service to Health and Safety,
    More power to the Blacklisting Boys and the SCC

  3. Arthur mckevitt

    I know what it is
    I know what it’s like to be Blacklisted and what help anyone will get in that situation. The
    economic League boasted that they had never been sued. I sued them in 1993 and
    yes they could call on the dirty tricks of the establishment to assist them I.e.
    Impersonate me rudely to staff at Tax office and impersonate tax officials
    making enquiries to my wife trying to find my London address for sinister
    reasons. Then the unseen hand intervened and a former Director General of the
    League stated he remembered my case and was able to state and provide the final
    bit of evidence we were seeking, The placed themselves in liquidation to
    protect the Establishment Grandees. I had previously visited their offices in
    1989 at Wine Office Court and met Jack Winder, he sent me a letter stating I
    was unknown to the organization, He lied the same as he did at a House of
    commons Select Committee 20 years ago. Mr. Kerr has lied to the Parliamentary
    Committee when he stated the Economic League disbanded owing to adverse publicity.
    They placed themselves in liquidation having been advised by Government to do
    so, to avoid a scandal. We either have a democracy or we don’t and there is no
    place for organizations within a democracy that are akin to a kangaroo courts,
    accountable to no one.

  4. prodnose

    Of course, this revelation is disgraceful. But I seem to remember a situation at Southampton Docks where one man was able to exert such influence on the workforce that most shipping companies moved their business to Felixtowe and other more cooperative sites. The result, for many years,was that Southampton lost hundreds of jobs. So there is another side to this story.
    Pity that the bosses hav’n’t learned from the example shown by great Victorian companies who built model estates for their workers and looked after them as a family. Today’s leader in company welfare must be John Lewis– and just look at their performance!!

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