LABOUR has secured a “historic” commitment from the government to protect trade unions from new spying powers and prevent a repeat of the blacklisting scandal.
Solicitor General Robert Buckland announced on Monday evening that the government had accepted four Labour amendments to add privacy safeguards to the Investigatory Powers Bill.
It includes a pledge that trade union activities will never again be considered sufficient reason to sanction the use of snooping powers.
Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham hailed a “historic move” that will “improve the governance of our country.”
“There is clear evidence that monitoring was used for unjustified political and commercial reasons, breaching privacy and basic human rights,” he said.
Unions recently won £75 million for thousands of workers, mainly in the construction sector, who were discovered on a blacklist compiled by the shadowy Consulting Association on behalf of bosses.
And the concession comes as evidence emerged that rail workers were also blacklisted after tip-offs from police officers who infiltrated union activities.
TUC deputy general secretary Paul Nowak said: “We are pleased these proposals have been dropped, following a sustained campaign by unions and opposition MPs.
“State-sponsored surveillance of trade unions has no role in a modern democracy like ours.
“We have seen at first hand with union blacklisting how human rights can be abused and lives wrecked when authorities start amassing details on unions and their members.”
Labour also secured a privacy clause within the Bill as well as a double lock process including power for judicial commissioners to scrutinise the decision to issue a warrant.