Last year I received a letter from Les Smith, a construction worker who in the 1980s had been involved in a 12-week strike on Merseyside and who went on the People's March for Jobs.
Soon after, it was made clear that he would never be taken on by his firm again and would be blacklisted in his trade.
He never saw anything ever put in writing by the companies and nothing was ever said in front of witnesses, but the message was clear.
If you didn't toe the line the bosses wanted you to know that they could make sure you never worked again.
It was nothing new. Blacklists had been in operation from the time agricultural workers were seen off the land for standing up against landowners and when the first industrial workers started to fight for better wages and conditions in the first workshops of the industrial revolution.
Trade union organisation and militancy had broken the back of blacklisting in most industries, but in areas of work like the construction industry, where workers were dependent on being hired largely on short-term contracts, the practice persisted covertly, and semi-clandestine organisations were established by employers to operate it.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the trade union movement included the demand for legislation to explicitly outlaw blacklisting in its set of demands for the scrapping of Thatcher's anti-trade union laws and the restoration of trade union rights.
When Labour was elected in 1997 we pressed for action against blacklisting to be included in the new government's early employment legislation.
When this proposal was included in the 1999 Employment Act, many of us naively felt a major victory had been secured.
Unfortunately at this stage we didn't fully appreciate the overriding influence that big business had in determining the policies and agenda of the Blair government.
To bring the new law against blacklisting into force detailed regulations had to be enacted.
Five years later and the regulations had still to be passed into law.
When I raised this in Parliament at the time we were told that the regulations had not been implemented because there was no evidence that blacklisting was taking place.
The TUC had surveyed its affiliates, but the government argued that too little evidence had emerged to prove that blacklisting was going on.
There was a virtual vow of silence among employers in the industry. We now know from the information that has come to light that there was also collusion by some renegade trade union officials in blacklisting.
The government refused to move on the enactment of the regulations due to this supposed lack of proof.
The breakthrough came when irrefutable evidence was produced by the Information Commissioner's raid on the offices of the Consulting Association.
A blacklist was uncovered with over 3,000 workers' names on it.
Detailed information on the trade unions and political activities and even personal lives of each of these individuals was contained on the list.
The Consulting Association's director was fined a paltry £4,000, paid for by one of the construction companies.
After this there was no excuse for the government not to act.
I convened a meeting at the House of Commons of some of the workers on the blacklist and we formed the Blacklist Support Group.
The campaign began in earnest to secure the enactment of regulations to enforce the outlawing of blacklists.
We also demanded an inquiry to secure the full truth about the blacklist's operation and compensation for all those who had suffered and whose families had been harmed by blacklisting.
Rank-and-file trade unionists like Dave Smith, Steve Acheson, Steve Kelly, Tony O'Brien, Frank Morris, Ray Bentham, Tony Jones, Steve Hedley, and Mick Holder and many others need to be thanked by our movement for the role they played in mobilising the support group.
Ucatt, Unite and RMT also played a powerful role in demanding action from the government.
The Institute of Employment Rights under John Hendy QC, Carolyn Jones and Professor Keith Ewing provided the legal expertise which was essential to our campaign.
In the last months of the new Labour government a new set of draft regulations were eventually published and made law.
To our disappointment, the new regulations were not as strong and effective as we had wanted. Nevertheless they were a step in the right direction.
The blacklist campaign did not go away. Instead the blacklisted workers moved on to fight their case for compensation in the courts.
During the preparation of these cases another breakthrough occurred.
Ian Davidson MP took up the issue at the Scottish select committee in Parliament and the witness for the Information Commission revealed that only 10 per cent of the blacklist evidence had been retrieved and that some information on the list could only have come from the police or the security services.
I raised this in Prime Minister's questions at the time the Leveson inquiry was being set up, and called for an inquiry into blacklisting. The Prime Minister refused.
Clearly there is one law for the rich and celebrities and another for workers.
Last week the Labour Party forced a debate in Parliament and took up the call for an inquiry.
What we now need is an independent inquiry into the operation of the blacklist and into its impact on the lives of the blacklisted workers and their families.
But nobody should be fooled into thinking that the blacklist is history - just take a look at the cleaning sector or hospitality industry.
Blacklisting is operating today wherever there are vulnerable workers and whenever people stand up for their rights and for justice.
That's why we need new legislation that effectively makes blacklisting a criminal offence carrying a prison sentence and that applies retrospectively to bring to book all those companies that have destroyed the lives of so many working people in this country.
We should not rest until we have achieved that legal reform and have eliminated he scourge of blacklisting once and for all.
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