Book Review from the July 2015 issue of the Socialist Standard
'Blacklisted: The Secret War Between Big Business and Union Activists'. By Dave Smith and Phil Chamberlain. New Internationalist Publications Ltd, 2015, £9.99.
This is about the industrial, mostly building construction, struggles between workers and the bosses, and their use of spies to inform on union representatives, thus resulting in their victimisation and unemployment.
It is a story of bitter class conflicts in which the employers were, and are, supported by the police special branches and MI5. Hundreds of building workers, and others, have been blacklisted just for highlighting dangerous conditions on building sites.
Some of the worst companies, listed by the authors, victimising union members, all in the interest of maximising profits, include the Kier Group, Balfour Beatty, Tarmac, Taylor Woodrow and probably the most notorious of them all, Sir Robert McAlpine, largely responsible for using, and encouraging, such spy outfits as the former Economic League and The Consulting Association (TCA).
The strength of this book lies in exposing the largely secret war of the bosses; the weakness, however, is the demand by the authors for a public enquiry. And all the TUC demands is that the employers compensate the blacklisted and victimised workers under the rubric: ‘Own Up! Clean Up! Pay Up!’.
Nowhere is it suggested that the workers should abolish the system of wage slavery, and the profit motive altogether, which gave rise and gives rise to the blacklisting and victimising in the first place. More’s the pity.
Peter E. Newell