I move amendment No. 10:
In page 16, line 29, after “not” to insert “blacklist,”.
As the Minister is aware, there are major issues internationally regarding blacklisting. Large companies operating within Ireland have been identified as having been previously involved in blacklisting. The process of blacklisting is very dangerous and negative. Where an individual is blacklisted, he or she is prevented from earning a living and-or must relinquish his or her trade union activism. Blacklisting has the effect of quarantining individuals and denying them access to the workplace. Thus, they have no ability to represent, influence, persuade or mobilise others to stand for their rights. This sends a message to other individuals operating in a particular sector that their attempts to join a union or be active within a union mean they too will be sent packing and will find themselves on the dole queue.
Blacklisting is an extremely insidious method by which unscrupulous employers can cleanse, from their perspective, their operations of individuals who could cause difficulties. However, from our perspective and from that of workers in the sector, these individuals are representatives of the needs of employees. This is about finding an equilibrium between employers and employees so that both groups are able to function and represent their needs. If the playing field is level, there is a better opportunity for outcomes that are fair to both employer and employee. Blacklisting is an effort to ensure the playing field is uneven.
Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain have recently published a book on blacklisting in Britain. Even the UK Labour Party MP, Mr. John McDonnell noted that blacklisting has deliberate effects in the economy.
In the last debate I had with the Minister of State, he said there was no evidence blacklisting operated in Ireland. The same argument was put forward in Britain until widespread and systematic blacklisting by 30 major contractors of more than 3,000 trade union activists was uncovered. For the Minister of State to say it does not exist in Ireland is to repeat the false statements made in Britain when people did not believe it existed there. The fact that the two economies are so closely linked in so many ways, with the same companies and many of the same practices operating in both jurisdictions, logically suggests that the practice would also travel. There is no point in shutting the door after the horse has bolted. This is why Governments create legislation. A good Government, with foresight, will create legislation to ensure that the horse does not bolt and the problem does not arise. Prevention is better than cure, and this is why I ask the Minister of State to accept my amendment.