UNION members held a protest demonstration outside a Darlington business it says was responsible for blacklisting construction workers.

The GMB is running a national campaign to highlight the plight of 3,213 workers nationally that were blacklisted for raising health and safety issues and taking part in union activities, among other reasons.

GMB activists were joined by UCATT members (Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians) outside Cleveland Bridge Ltd in Darlington today (Tuesday October 21) in protest against a personnel director, Lynne Day, they say was responsible for blacklisting 36 workers.

Ms Day's name appears as the contact for Cleveland Bridge in a document submitted by the company that maintained the blacklist to the Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry into Blacklisting in Employment.

The Northern Echo contacted Cleveland Bridge but no-one was available for comment.

Justin Bowden, GMB national officer, said blacklisting had a huge impact on people’s lives and the public deserved to know the truth about the practice and those responsible should be held to account.

He said: “This blacklisting happened during a building boom yet people went from having paid full-time employment one day, to not being able to get a job another, or just getting one day here and then being given up with no explanation.

“People had to travel further to get work, a number left the industry, it broke up families and we know of at least two (blacklisted people) who committed suicide.

“The effects have been absolutely massive.”

The blacklist was uncovered in 2009 after a raid by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) on the offices of the Consulting Association, which maintained the list and was later closed down.

High Court action is currently being taken against some of the companies involved in blacklisting and the Scottish Affairs Committee is holding an enquiry into the practice.

Darlington demonstrator and UCATT Crook secretary Dave Ayre discovered he was on the blacklist after he retired from the construction industry.

He had worked on major developments such as James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough and North Tees Hospital in Stockton but believes he was blacklisted because he co-wrote a book, The Flying Pickets, about the builders’ strikes of 1972.

He said: “I wasn’t frightened by it (being blacklisted), I didn’t feel intimidated but there are other colleagues on the branch that it has affected mentally.”

He added: “Some colleagues, particularly in London, have lost years of work for being blacklisted.”

The GMB’s protest tour aims to name and shame the 63 construction industry managers it says are responsible for blacklisting by visiting their companies across the country.