London police finally admit they fed intel to UK construction cartel to build illegal blacklist of labour organisers


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/25/economic-league.html


#2

Always a dubious pleasure to find our fellows across the pond are, in their own special way, often just as bad (or worse!) about late-stage capitalism =p.


#3

I’m unclear what role the police had in this, exactly - what information were they passing on? Were workers coming to file complaints, and the police informed on them to the construction industry? That would be a pretty monstrous breach, but whatever their role, it seems like some people need to go to jail.


#4

Indeed, Both the UK and the USA seem to love copying the worst parts of the other :frowning:


#5

Well, it’s nice to know that the UK is even-handed enough to see both unions and employer cartels as a matter for the police.

Now, as to what type of police matter…


#6

I highly recommend reading the Guardian article linked to in the article:
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2012/mar/03/blacklisted-building-workers-court-hopes.

In short, the police, in association with various contractors/developers ran a company whose job it was to blacklist workers who complained about more or less anything and/or organized and/or caused any sort of problem. So, let’s say you fell at work and broke your leg and your boss said “If you don’t work on your broken leg, you are fired.” and you thought “Oh, man, that’s not legal, I should complain to the police about this.” Well, the police would hear your complaint and then they reported you to a firm, paid for/owned by the contractors, whose job it was to blacklist you (and thousands of others) from future employment.

It’s not like a few rogue policemen were in the pay of contractors. Nope. It’s not like a few contractors were corrupt. Nope. It was a formal, business-like, blacklisting project, run by the police and the contractors together, to screw workers. The police and various contractors and developers ran the project for nearly thirty years. And, when they got caught, the police tried to hide the whole business.

As far as I can tell, a few people might get slapped on the wrist, if that. No doubt this project saved many millions of dollars for the contractors, at the worker’s expense, so I’d guess they’ll do it again, and again, and again. That’s just good business sense, right? What would it take to stop it? Maybe a few hundred(?) people need to go to jail, a lot of policemen need to lose their jobs, and a few dozen contractors need to go belly up? Maybe at 3200 workers need to be compensated? That might be a start.


#7

this is positively reminiscent of middle-stage capitalism, like the Empire used to do!


#9

Ah thanks, I missed that link in the Guardian article linked here - the other articles didn’t get into that. So it’s pretty much the worst-case scenario, then, in terms of what the police were doing. (And the intelligence services, too, it looks like - spying on union members for trade cartels.)

“But Kerr was fined only £5,000 and while the Consulting Association was closed, only 14 of Kerr’s clients were given enforcement notices, demanding they comply with the law. In the three years since the blacklist was first revealed, only three people are understood to have successfully won a claim at a full employment tribunal.
[…]
The ICO says it has been unable to pursue the police officers or security services over the confidential information that found its way into Kerr’s database.”

Holy shit. Yeah, a whole lot of people definitely need to go to jail over this.


#10

I have no particular insight into this case, but I feel 90% certain that the link between the two organisations was established by hiring ex-cops who then stayed in touch with their old mates in the police force.


#11

This is classic capitalism, and employed at any stage.


#12

Not that it will ever happen, but putting a few now-retired, high-ranked cops in jail would be a good thing.


#13

FWIW, this story has been unfolding over the last decade or so . . . the only new thing is the the police have admitted that, yes, they did what they have been accused of–running a company in conjunction with various contractors/developers facilitating the blacklisting of thousands of workers for nearly thirty years.

This story is not unique in the history of labor organizing. What might have to happen to reestablish a sense of fair play in London labor? Dozens of policemen go to jail? Dozens of contractors go out of business? The money gained by liquidating various contractors/developers goes to support labor organizing for a few decades? Maybe all of that is a start? What’s actually happening? Nothing.


#14

The only ex-cop I can think of who I can see that happening to is David Duckenfield, for 95 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence at the Hillsborough disaster.


#15

Whenever I hear entrepreneurs say that their best education was going bankrupt, it is clear that the lesson learned was how to externalize costs.


#16

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