A personnel chief has been condemned for telling a meeting of blacklisted workers that the scandal was a “big fuss about very little.” So-called “employee relations expert” Mike Emmott, from human resources workers’ professional body the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), made the comments following his keynote speech at the Manchester Industrial Relations Society’s 50th anniversary conference on Friday.
He told the packed-out meeting of 200 leading industrial relations academics, HR professionals and union officials, including blacklisted workers and Shrewsbury Pickets, that he found “union moral outrage over blacklisting rather distasteful.” Mr Emmott had been speaking of the need for HR managers to embed a “culture of trust, fairness and respect” but showed his true colours after being quizzed by general union GMB political officer Neil Smith over CIPD’s lack of response to blacklisting. His outburst was met with gasps, then loud applause after follow-up questions identified a number in CIPD’s ranks who were personally involved in blacklisting union members.
A flustered Mr Emmott responded by claiming ignorance, even though the issue has been front-page news in even the CIPD’s own journal. “Yes, it is a big fuss about nothing when you cannot feed and clothe your kids and don’t know why,” said Manchester electrician and MRI picket Tony Jones, who was blacklisted for many years after raising concerns about electrical safety. “To me that’s a form of child abuse.”
Blacklist Support Group chairman Steve Acheson, also a Manchester electrician, said the campaign group had submitted a complaint to the CIPD for breaches of the code of ethical conduct but that, two years later, nobody had faced any sanction. “Nor has any senior manager involved in blacklisting been disciplined by their employer. Most remain in post or have even been promoted to the board,” Mr Acheson said. “The firms and CIPD have cried crocodile tears about blacklisting but the mask of hypocrisy worn by the HR profession has finally slipped.”
GMB Yorkshire & North Derbyshire senior organiser Graham Benton commented, “Mr Emmott needs a good chat with his chief executive officer Peter Cheese who earlier this month at the CIPD’s own annual conference condemned the practice following a question I put to him as a CIPD member. Obviously a breakdown in communication at the higher levels of the organisation which is hiding behind pending court action to avoid disciplining senior CIPD members for driving a coach and horses through their own ethical conduct policy. Hardly ‘the right thing to do’ as the CIPD teaches.”
Unions including GMB, Ucatt and Unite are seeking compensation for blacklisted members through the courts.