Two firms with links to Bradford are among 40 which had an illegal ‘blacklist’ of union activists.

The Information Commissioner’s Office yesterday published the names of companies which have bought information on potential employees from a West Midlands consultancy firm.

Two of the firms, NG Bailey and Morrison Construction Group, have links to Bradford. One of the UK’s largest private construction firms, NG Bailey is in Ilkley, and Morrison Construction, described as a former subscriber to the database, has contracts with Yorkshire Water and Bradford Council.

The ICO raided the Consulting Association and seized the database containing details of more than 3,000 construction workers.

The ICO said it believed the database had been running for more than 15 years and that the named firms subscribed to the system for an annual fee of £3,000.

The revelation has confirmed suspicions by trades unionists that the blacklisting of union members and whistle-blowers still occurs on a large scale, said Alan Ritchie, general secretary of UCATT.

He said: “UCATT members know from bitter experience of being refused work that blacklisting exists in construction.”

Paul Meszaros, of Bradford Trades Council, said: “This is reminiscent of the Economic League, shadowy organisations that exist to discriminate against workers.

“It is not a surprise but this time they have been caught in the act. I believe the Government should act to ban the granting of public contracts to these firms who are blacklisting workers for legitimate union activities. It is disgraceful.”

A spokesman for NG Bailey said: “The company is taking these claims very seriously and an immediate and thorough investigation into the matter has been launched.”

Galliford Try, the firm which bought Morrison in 2006, said it was unaware of the allegations and that it related to the period prior to its acquisition. Galliford Try said it took its responsibilities towards employees seriously and has clear employment policies in place.

Yorkshire Water pledged to investigate the allegations of illegality against its contractor.

No-one at Bradford Council was available for comment.