RYE councillor Sam Souster has played a key role in persuading Rother Council not to use firms who illegally black-list workers.
At a full council meeting on Monday members supported a motion from Cllr Maurice Watson asking that the authority “deplores the illegal practice” and ensures that any company known to have been involved and not to have indemnified their victims will not be invited to tender for contracts.
Cllr Souster said: “A large number of construction workers that find themselves unemployable at a time when these are the very people who are being hit by the increasing cost of of living and the reductions in benefit being imposed from April this year.”
Cllr Souster said that the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) and General Municipal Boilermakers (GMB) had investigated and had been unable to obtain the information compiled about 3,213 blacklisted workers.
He added that only 194 of the workers concerned actually knew they were on the list.
Many had incurred companies’ displeasure after raising legitimate health and safety concerns, and this in an industry which had seen 49 deaths and many serious injury accidents during 2012.
Cllr Souster said: “Blacklisting is a secretive and malicious practice that ruins lives, and is worsened by the fact that not only is information compiled about workers being witheld from them and so cannot be challenged, it is also shared among employers.”
Cllr Mrs Sue Prochak said the construction industry was the second most dangerous to be in, and the blacklisting of whistleblowers concerned about safety issues “smacked of McCarthyism”.
The motion was seconded by Cllr Robin Patten and received support from all sides.
The Health and Safety Executive says that during the past seven years, 30 per cent of all workplace deaths have occurred on construction sites.
Construction workers include scaffolders, plumbers, steel workers, steeplejacks and other high risk jobs.
The most common of construction work accident claims from workers include slips, trips and falls, electrocution and falling from heights.