back to article Mandy promises end to illegal staff blacklists

Lord Mandelson has opened a consultation on banning the use of union blacklists by employers. The listening period starts today and runs till 18 August - shorter than usual because Mandy wants to introduce legislation in the autumn. The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills also said the shorter period was justified …

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Coat

Call him by his name.

Thats... First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Lord President of the Council, Lord Mandelson to you. I think

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Anonymous Coward

Control orders = Blacklists

Indeed there should be no secret list that prevents people working. Or for that matter using a bank account, travelling, etc.

Should there Mandy?

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Big Brother

Will this include the BNP too?

Whilst I can't stand the BNP, I can't understand how it legal to refuse employment to people based on a political affiliation. Surely if the BNP are allowed to represent the public in Local, Regional, UK & European governments, they can be employed.

If a person is stupid enough to display any racist tendencies on the job, then they deserve to get fired. If they display none whatsoever, but are a member of the BNP, then said person has proved they're capable if doing their job no matter what their beliefs are.

Ok, the BNP aren't a union, but if you make it illegal to discriminate against homosexuals, unions, women etc, surely political views should be included.

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Thumb Up

Bloody good thing!

Disgusting practice and it's nice to see the culprit getting dealt with properly for it.

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RE: Will this include the BNP too?

John Bayly wrote: "I can't understand how it legal to refuse employment to people based on a political affiliation."

It's not. The BNP are the ones most likely to fall foul of this themselves though. They're also the ones who seem most likely to refuse people employment on the grounds of religion or race...

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Bronze badge
WTF?

Shirley it's already illegal?

Wouldn't the data protection act already make it illegal to compile, distribute or use such a list? As such this looks like yet another case of the government designing legislation to deal with something that is already illegal.

Driving while using a hand held mobile phone was illegal according to the Construction and Use Regulations long before the specific offence was created. The argument given was that it would be easier to preosecute with the specific offence rather than the legal arguements based on the C&U regs. This is, however, nonsense. A single test case would have set precedent. This would have been much cheaper than adding a new offence to the books.

I suspect the real reason for creating that offence was to create publicity. I think the same would be true in this case as well.

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Black Helicopters

Economic League

Back in the late 80's and at the start of my programming career I was pretty active in CND and left wing politics. It was pretty harmless stuff like protest marches, standing outside Gleneagles with Scotland Out of NATO Banners and one fun night when Duncan Campbell's seized BBC programme about the SIGINT satellites was shown by Edinburgh Uni (I think there were more special branch there than civvy bods).

I interviewed with two companies, one of which was the civilian wing of a UK defence contractor (military satellite stuff was one of their specialities). In both cases I never revealed my political leanings because I was never asked to. I was pretty much told the jobs were mine and that they'd need to "sort some stuff in the admin area".

To cut a long story short, both companies dropped me like hot potatoes with no reasonable excuse.

I can't help but think something like a lookup on TCA or EL happened. However, who can say conclusively that this kinda stuff hasn't been driven further underground and still used secretly by unscrupulous businesses?

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Silver badge
Unhappy

How many companies have been punished?

"The government accepted that its proposals could be avoided by simply running a website from abroad, but said British users of such a service could still be punished."

"TCA held a list of 3,213 building workers and was used by 40 major clients. The ICO said Kerr is due to be sentenced next week."

So how many companies have been brought to trial for subscribing to Kerr's illegal list? He shouldn't be facing the music alone, but I suspect too many party donors (of all political shades) will have their involvement swept under the carpet.

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Anonymous Coward

(untitled)

Has he been on the road to Damascus, and suddenly realised he's supposed to be a socialist?

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FAIL

I presume ...

... that this will also include a whopping fine for companies who have illegally used an enhanced CRB check to sack or deny a place to an employee ?

No ?

Thought not. Move on then, nothing to see ....

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Silver badge
Big Brother

@Rod Maclean

Not so, old son.

Serving police officers are just one example where BNP membership is prohibited.

It is the the thin end of the wedge where to be a plod, local government officer or whatever, you have to have the "right" political views.

This is extremely dangerous, and a frightening tool in the hands of the control-freak apology for a government under which we currently suffer.

Should we permit this to flourish? If so, how long until total support for NuLab becomes a pre-requisite for ANY public sector post? (Except for the armed forces, of course, as we know the contempt NuLab have for them).

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Bronze badge

@Red Bren

Under the DPA it is not only illegal to compile or distribute such data, it is illegal to use it in any way at all. So I don't see the problem with the list moving abroad if the government are so keen on creating a specific offence they could make it illegal to access such a list over the internet.

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Big Brother

@ Black Helecopter

Same here, became active in a banking union for a few years then suddenly found I was unemployable (though I never mentioned it to prospectives).

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Black Helicopters

@Economic League

>I can't help but think something like a lookup on TCA or EL happened.

Nope - it would be positive vetting. Your previous employers would have had a visit and a chat.

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Big Brother

@Rod MacLean

How come we see articles like this?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3930175.stm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/nov/19/police-bnp-far-right-list

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/merseyside/7741141.stm

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/lawandorder/3494566/BNP-police-officer-to-be-questioned.html

Essentially the police force are saying that the only reason they're investigation officers is that they're on a list, not that any formal complaints have been made. I fully admit that it's unlikely that a paid up member of the BNP will be fully impartial when dealing with other race, but that will become evident in the course of their employment, and allow the employer to remove them legally.

You're right, as the BNP appeared to want to employ members only but have been told they can't. So whilst I'm arguing for no employment restrictions across the board (including the BNP), I can imagine they're not.

Hmm, this kind of playing devil's advocate could get me in trouble.

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FAIL

Were you that naive?

'I interviewed with two companies, one of which was the civilian wing of a UK defence contractor (military satellite stuff was one of their specialities). In both cases I never revealed my political leanings because I was never asked to. I was pretty much told the jobs were mine and that they'd need to "sort some stuff in the admin area".

To cut a long story short, both companies dropped me like hot potatoes with no reasonable excuse.

I can't help but think something like a lookup on TCA or EL happened.'

No. You were dropped because you are a security risk and the govts own vetting procedures have listed you as such. Remember children, what you think of as an innocent 'fun' student activity is often viewed with great distaste when it come to the defence of the realm, and this kind of vetting will stick around for a long, long time.

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RW

Promises, promises

Another belch of empty promises from a Labour gasbag. Rather like swamp gas burping up out of the squelch and mire of a very stinky marsh.

Go away and stay away, vile socialists!

footnote: last word in preceding line is used sarcastically

Why is there no I-stick-my-tongue-out-at-you-in-a-rude-fashion icon?

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Will this include the BNP too?

Yes.

One of the aspects of this case that made the ICO carry out the prosecution is that union activity is classified as sensitive personal data under the DPA. Although getting explicit consent to use such data is just one lawful purpose, none of the other conditions apply in TCA's case. Sensitive personal data also includes political views, sexual preference, medical data, criminal history, prospective criminal proceedings, race and religion. Any use of this information to block access to employment, money etc would be massively unlawful unless another law or regulations permitted

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Anonymous Coward

@Were you that naive?

Pretty much the same thing though, isn't it?

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Black Helicopters

@Were you that naive?

No, but I'd expect 1) to be informed I would be positively vetted 2) both were civvy companies, the fact that one of them did military stuff in a separate Ltd company shouldn't have made any difference.

Both roles were as a developer on some kind of accounting app.

Lastly, unless I had a criminal record (which I don't) ,or there was evidence that I had disadvantaged the state in any way as an insurgent/terrorist/guerilla etc, then all my political actions were lawful and shouldn't merit me being flagged as a risk.

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Flame

Ironic

No wonder Mandy is so keen on getting rid of lists that stop him working... Wasn't he dismissed from the cabinet what once? twice before? For being a crook?

So they packed him off to Europe where he could feather his nest.

Bring him back, add "Lord" (polish a turd?) and there he is, Labour's Attack Dog.

Fingers crossed he didn't pick up rabies on the continent, though knowing how his previous associates liked greasing palms and the like, no doubt by laying down with them he did pick up a few fleas.

His current Modus O tends to be simply to attack anyone who disagrees with him, rather than the subject of their argument.

A grubby little man, in a grubby little job, and now he's had to back down on the GPO, no doubt he'll have to find something else to grab headlines.

Try a resignation letter. Hint hint hint.

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Grenade

HERE HERE!

Also that job sniping should be made illegal.

Job sniping is where a manager or employee gets another person fired just so they can get their out of work personal friend hired.

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Mandelson is the Prince of Darkness..

..and you shouldn't believe a word that he says. If he says that employment blacklists are illegal and will end, you should already have figured out that

a/ they won't end, they'll just change "slightly"

b/ he'll do as little as possible about them but spin it up likes it's a major achievement

c/ claim the paper on expenses

This is the man so divorced from the reality of real life that he thought that mushy peas were a sort of Northern guacamole (I don't really know what guacamole is but that it's green, foreign, posh, and something that Southerners in London have with other fancy grub)

wot no slimy little weasel icon?

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Grenade

@Anonymous Hero

"No, but I'd expect 1) to be informed I would be positively vetted 2) both were civvy companies, the fact that one of them did military stuff in a separate Ltd company shouldn't have made any difference."

What you would expect, and what the MoD would expect in the interests of security, differ, my friend. Sometimes, military contracts require certain security to be maintained, which can include all staff being vetted as a basic precaution. Take one of my previous employments, at the Met Office, for example: There's nothing secret about the weather. Nor the data feeds - the information is publicly available, at some cost. The forecasting algorithms might be worth something, but I'm sure they've given Michael Fish enough embarrassment that most people would not consider stealing it... However, there is the small fact that the Army, Navy and Air Force will call up with no notice, and ask what the weather is going to be like in Timbuktu, before they invade. Naturally, the MoD would rather avoid employing peaceniks who could give the military a hard time by leaking details of their enquiries to the press (or the enemy.) Result: Nobody works at the Met Office without being thoroughly vetted.

"Both roles were as a developer on some kind of accounting app."

Irrelevant. You never know what kind of commercial or state secrets you might have had to keep, on even the most boring assignment. Or what kind of systems or access you shared (sometimes, even sharing the same building or computer system is enough) with people who worked on more sensitive issues. This is more likely to be what they cared about, not your ability to program a computer.

"Lastly, unless I had a criminal record (which I don't) ,or there was evidence that I had disadvantaged the state in any way as an insurgent/terrorist/guerilla etc, then all my political actions were lawful and shouldn't merit me being flagged as a risk."

You are a *potential* threat, by dint of your previous history. That is enough to deem you unclean for life, with or without your permission. That you did not reveal your history (whether or not you were asked) is also considered dubious by some, and the chances are that when they found out, they immediately thought "What else didn't he tell us?" This should be obvious. Government agencies do not play nice and give you the benefit of the doubt: If there is a question mark hanging over your head, no matter how small, they simply say "Thank you, but no thank you", and pick someone else. They do NOT have to give a reason why they decided not to employ you! There are enough people out there without question marks, who have the skills and are readily employable. In the face of such facts, why take the risk? In the end, they only care about the fact that your history is dubious - they are not in the business of proving your innocence, because that isn't their concern.

Just because you did not *break* the law does not mean you didn't appear on someone's radar. In the end, that is enough. For example, some people cheat on their wives/husbands, which IS entirely legal in the UK, but relatively few (if any) of these people find themselves employed in a trusted position. Why? Cheating on your partner is indicative of a pattern that you are not capable of keeping your commitments. In your case, you only attended a demonstration - but the vetting department have no way of knowing whom you met there, or how you were influenced into going to that demonstration in the first place, or what you agreed to afterwards. Chances are, if you were idealistic enough to attend a demonstration, there is a good chance that you may just be malleable enough to become somebody else's stooge. Stranger things have happened! In the end, it's just pure speculation, yes, but in the Government's eyes, it is just something they are not prepared to take a chance on. That is why they sent you packing.

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IT Angle

@Ted Treen

Actually, you can't be in *any* political party if you're in the police. This is right and proper - those that enforce the law should be blind to political affiliation.

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Anonymous Coward

@Anonymous Hero

Maybe one of your references didn't check out. - rather more likely than the security issue if you weren't applying for work in the defence sector. This could have happened if they phoned up and your referee was on holiday and they asked whoever answered the phone what they thought of you. If it happened to be someone who didn't think much of you, a less then enthusiastic response would probably have been enough to lose you the job.

If you had been applying for work on military projects, then the application form would have asked if you or any close members of your family were active members of any politcal party or trade union. This in itself might not have been an issue but not declaring would have been an indication that you had something to hide.

As for CND: We now know (from former members of the KGB) that several senior members of CND worked directly or indirectly for the KGB and associated organisations - maybe the security services of the time would have known this.

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Thumb Down

@ BNP in police etc

It is not a 'no-BNP' rule in the police. It's a 'no political parties' rule. There to ensure the police are neutral. Very different from a BNP ban, and quite reasonable, tbh.

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Gates Horns

blah blah blah

never mind that they don't make a white list illegal. List all non-union employees as good. Label all the bad apples in there (slackers, malingerers, people who spend all day reading the register).

A company runs a check and if the person "doesn't pop up on the list" they are union.

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Happy

"You can't get me if I'm part of the union"

I think you'll find the phrase is:

"You don't get me I'm part of the Union"

Exhibit 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdOCWUgwiWs

Cheque please.

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WTF?

People who cheat don't get into positions of power?

Sorry anon coward but that is the biggest load of toss I've heard in a long time. Alpha type males get to the top by being ruthless bastards and they also end up shagging secretaries and any other giggling girl who is impressed by a Porche.

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Thumb Down

@Vetting

"Result: Nobody works at the Met Office without being thoroughly vetted."

Firstly, I worked at the Met Office, and was a card-carrying member of more "student-fun" organisations than you could shake a stick at. Secondly positive vetting has always quite rightly more concerned with making sure public-school-tards don't expose themselves to blackmail by the Russkies due to their "interesting" sexual deviations than pretty much anything else. Because the MOD always - but always - leaks from the top-down.

"You are a *potential* threat, by dint of your previous history."

No he isn't. See above.

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Stop

@People who cheat don't get into positions of power?

"Sorry anon coward but that is the biggest load of toss I've heard in a long time. Alpha type males get to the top by being ruthless bastards and they also end up shagging secretaries and any other giggling girl who is impressed by a Porche."

Ever worked in the defence industry? I think you will find that things are very different, there. Most Defence types don't drive Porsches, for a start - even the guys and gals at the top...

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@Mark61 - Re: BNP in police etc

Is there any chance you can direct us to a link specifying that. I've never heard that it was a complete ban on political parties (of course that doesn't mean it exists).

A quick google on the topic only appears to give results on the BNP being banned and not all political parties.

Actually, I found this article in the Independent (albeit in 2003):

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/blunkett-wants-to-stop-bnp-members-serving-in-police-734605.html

"At the moment, there is no automatic ban on political activists joining the force, but applicants must declare any political party membership prior to recruitment. In addition, officers are barred from taking an active role in politics or "any activity which is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of his or her duties, or which is likely to give rise to the impression among members of the public that it may so interfere". "

I loathe to say this, but if somebody harbours racist tendencies in private but can be completely impartial in their job (I know it's unlikely), then the employer should be none the wiser, and the "active role in politics" clause has no purpose. It's when the line between work and private life is blurred that problems start to happen, and then the employee in question is no longer capable of executing their job.

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FAIL

Something Missing here

Quote" Thats... First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Lord President of the Council, Lord Mandelson to you. I think"

What you forgot to add was "Unelected Prat who has no business being in any government position" and who has failed miserably on two previous occasions!

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Megaphone

Lists, lists and lists

I rather suspect old Mandy might be on or two lists himself and the sooner he can ban people from making and keeping them the better.

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