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Employment Tribunal costs in the UK: Removing agency from workers… March 18, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Workers Rights.
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For a taste of how the implementation of systems can constrain supposedly progressive options, look no further than this example from UK’s Socialist Unity where Andy Newman writes about how the Employment Tribunal there has new fees.

Charging £250 to issue a claim and between £960 and £1,060 for a hearing has priced workers out of tribunals since 29th July last year.

It’s not difficult to imagine the chill factor that has on workers who seek to go through the mechanism of the ET. Indeed we don’t even have to imagine it for the figures on the October to December 2013 period are already in.

New figures from the government show that for employment tribunals the number of claims received in October to December 2013 was 9,801 – 79% fewer than in the same period of 2012, and 75% fewer than last quarter. Justice Minister Shailesh Vara claims that this sudden and dramatic fall is due to “long term trends”

How those on low and very low wages (or indeed many on quite reasonable wages) or short or fixed term contracts are meant to contest a system which incorporates such costs is almost impossible to understand. I’ve seen first hand the barriers that faced workers in some employments even attempting to see that national wage agreements and other agreements were implemented, saw how difficult it was for them to unionise, saw the psychological and other hurdles that had to be overcome in order to do so. And this throws another – and very material – barrier across their path.

As Andy Newman reports the GMB spokesperson saying the idea that’s some sort of structural decline is laughable. But this offers a perfect example of how progressive legislation fought and won for across years can be rolled back in the blink of an eye. Some interesting points raised in comments below the original piece on SU, not least that this offers a ‘green light’ to employers that the broader context has changed in their favour.

And another point reiterated is that, as ever, part of the answer to this is that people unionise so that their rights can be supported and vindicated as best as is possible given these constraints.

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1. steve white - March 19, 2014

discussion of employment appeals tribunals at petitions committee http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/Debates%20Authoring/DebatesWebPack.nsf/committeetakes/NVJ2013071800004?opendocument

where somebody won but the company shut down and restarted the business to avoid this (and I presume other) obligations

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