'Building firms bought data on blacklist workers'
Mar 6 2009 WalesOnline
A list of major companies alleged to have broken data protection laws by paying for information on their employees is published today.
The 40-plus firms face legal action after the revelation by the Information Commissioner, The Guardian said.
The firms include Balfour Beatty, Taylor Woodrow and Laing O'Rourke.
It follows an investigation by the commissioner’s office amid fears that thousands of workers in the construction industry have been treated unfairly.
The commissioner claims that the building firms covertly bought details of trade union activities and their conduct at work “over many years” from a private investigator. The information was then allegedly used to “blacklist” workers and stop them from getting work.
David Smith, the deputy information commissioner, told The Guardian: “This is a serious breach of the Data Protection Act. Not only was personal information held on individuals without their knowledge or consent, but the very existence of the database was repeatedly denied.
“Trading people’s personal details in this way is unlawful and we are determined to stamp out this type of activity.”
Construction workers have repeatedly claimed that they have been stopped from getting work after being blacklisted for suspected union activities. The industry has always denied the claims.