It may seems obvious, but we must continually remind Leicester’s Labour-run Council to support the Labour movement. They should recall that just six years ago, after years of campaigning, trade union activists finally succeeded in prompting an official investigation into how blacklisting practices were being used to punish workers in the construction industry for raising trade union or health and safety issues. Unfortunately here in Leicester, our Labour Council has comprehensively failed to act upon the ongoing revelations around these attacks on workers rights.
Earlier this year, the national steering committee of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) gave its full backing to the central demand of the Blacklist Support Group’s campaign for a “fully independent public inquiry into police collusion in the scandal of blacklisting”. The General Election even seemed to galvanise a positive response from the Labour Party, with The Guardian newspaper running with the headline: “Labour promise inquiry into ‘odious’ blacklisting of thousands of workers in the construction industry.”
In response, Leicester’s Labour Council has continued to do nothing. On the contrary companies like Balfour Beatty, which had been a long-standing supporter of the blacklisting of active trade unionists, are still being rewarded with multimillion pound building contracts in Leicester. Three years ago, Balfour Beatty was selected as the preferred bidder by Leicester City Council for its public lighting contract, worth approximately £17.2 million. While as of last year Balfour Beatty has been overseeing the £42 million redevelopment of the De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) campus.
This is why TUSC sides with the Blacklist Support Group’s demand that no public contracts should be given to “any firms previously involved in blacklisting unless they apologise and pay compensation (as called for by Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigation).” And this is why we call upon Leicester’s 52 Labour councillors to commit their council to opposing blacklisting in all its forms. If the Labour-controlled Islington Council was able to make this promise to support workers last year, then why can’t our Council do the same right now?
Letter sent to the Leicester Mercury mailbox on 2nd July.