Sunday 11 May 2008

Theft of our rights

A new database is due to come on-line, with the sole purpose of blacklisting people whose previous employers have accused them of theft - even when no criminal charges were brought (BBC News: Bust-up with the boss?).

I have always been against the use of unproven criminal allegations being used to stop people getting jobs; I never liked the use of the 'enhanced disclosure' section of CRB checks for working with kids, which included failed convictions (as opposed to actual convictions, or even formal cautions). Indeed, in the past, people were blacklisted by employers for activities which weren't even criminal - both the state organisation MI5 and the private Economic League held lists of left-wing and anti-Establishment political activists and even union activists, which employers (both state and private) used to avoid employing people who they did not agree with politically.

It also seems to me that the Establishment's attitudes towards employing criminals have changed massively in the past 10 years. Back in 1999, the British Army was actually recruiting in prisons (BBC News: Army prison recruitment confirmed). Maybe I'm missing the point, but I'd personally feel just a little safer if a criminal had a cash register than if he had a gun!

The biggest problem for me with this blacklist is that it relies on unproven allegations. miscarriages of justice occur even within the legal system, where a crime must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. How many more miscarriages of justice will occur within a system where the mere say-so of the boss, even another employee, who an employee has had a personality clash with, could ruin someone's chances of working again? And would this not be a charter for racists etc who, rather than dismiss someone overtly due to prejudice, can instead concoct allegations of theft or dishonesty?

The National Staff Dismissal Register was set up by as a joint venture between the British Retail Consortium and the Home Office - hardly surprising, considering the Home Office also introduced ASBOs, which similarly rely upon unproven allegations and can severely restrict a person's rights without needing the burden of proof required for a criminal conviction :-(

Then again, some thieves will remain secure in their jobs. Bosses of big business have fat salaries which are largely dependent on how much profit they make their company - and profit is nothing more than exploitation, ie the theft of their workers' labour. Yet such thieves, far from being placed on a blacklist, would be welcomed on the boardroom of a rival company even more if they increased the level of theft of their workers' labour, meaning higher profits.

Capitalism is a crime - together we can crack it!

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