In the 1990s the directors of several major British construction firms subscribed to an anti-union operation aimed at sharing information on workers who they identified as "troublemakers" – i.e. those who had been involved in workplace disputes (over health and safety or unpaid wages) or who had taken part in left-wing political campaigning outside of work. Anyone whose name appeared on the list – which came to contain over 3,000 files – was monitored for their trade union and political activities, and their records often cost them work when they applied for new jobs.
All this went on in secret; though workers themselves suspected something was going on, they were branded conspiracy theorists until the list was uncovered in 2009. Created by Lucy Parker and City Projects over four years, this documentary features members of the Blacklist Support Group that was set up in light of the revelation. It shows the community that built up around them in their fight for justice, taking in members from other trade unions as well as student lawyers. And in light of the Undercover Policing Inquiry, it questions the connections between private corporations and the state, encourages debate around employment rights, and highlights the potential for change that may be achieved through collective action.
This film is one of our Doc/Fest 2019 picks.
- Words by
- Kathryn Hall
- Featured in
- Doc/Fest picks