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The trade union story the papers won’t cover

19091068_sMany thanks to Johanna Baxter for using her report back of July’s Labour NEC meeting to remind her readers what’s coming on the 29th of this month.

I can’t imagine The Sun or the Daily Mail will be criticising this direct attack on the interests of the overwhelming majority of their readers.

I also made the point to Ed that whilst the media have spent the past week writing about trade union affiliation they seem to have forgotten the devastating changes that are due to be made to people’s rights at work on the 29th of this month.

Workers who have been unfairly dismissed or discriminated against by their employer, and who seek redress at tribunal, will now be charged for taking that claim to hearing and have no assurance that if their claim is settled they will have their money repaid to them.

Employers will also be able to make ‘offers’ to employees to leave their organisations – without the need for that employer to go through normal dismissal, grievance or performance procedures – through conversations that will later be inadmissible in any future tribunal proceedings.

That is tantamount to giving employers carte blanche to hold ‘car-park conversations’ with anyone they don’t like, pressing them to give up their jobs before they are pushed or dismissed, with the employee having no means of referring to that conversation, or how threatened they felt by it, in any future case.

While ‘bad practice’ in the operation of these conversations is supposed to be prohibited, it will, in many instances, be almost impossible for employees to prove that it has taken place. All of those changes are being introduced after the government has already made it harder for workers to seek redress by increasing the qualification period before they can submit an employment tribunal claim and has cut legal aid for employment issues.

So whilst others review our structures I asked that Ed ensure he talks about the issues facing those working people trade unions represent right now.

Unite have allocated funds so none of its members will have to pay a single penny if they wish to take a bullying boss to a tribunal, and I know other unions are following suit. After the end of July, you cannot afford *not* to be in a trade union.

Image credit: selezenj / 123RF Foto de archivo


  1. Richard Johnson says:

    UNISON have also committed to paying members’ tribunal fees.

  2. James Martin says:

    Yes, most unions will pay. However, most unions will also have to be far more cautious than they are already with ET applications, and I suspect that the standard ’50/50 rule’ (where a union will only back a ET application for one of its members if their own legal advice is that it stands a 50 per cent chance or better of winning) will be even more carefully enforced.

    Also, and what often gets forgotten here, is that while it may act in some instances as a recruitment tool, it is far more likely to be in practice a very heavy state tax on the unions. For example, RMT have calculated that due to the excellent way they are prepared to defend their members from the private rail operators that charging for ET claims will mean them handing over upwards of a million pounts a year to the treasury.

    Despite what the Daily Mail and employers organisations may have us believe, the number of ET applications had already been falling significantly, as had the average pay out for a successful claim for unfair dismissal (now only around £4.5k). Therefore these Con-Dem ‘reforms’ have nothing to do with cutting red tape or saving money, but everything to do with the multi-pronged attack on living standards and the drive to reduce wages and conditions. A bad employers charter in other words.

    But what are Millband and Balls actually doing in response to this attack? A bit of hand-wringing, or not even that? Because the real tragedy here is that the pair of them appear to have swallowed whole the nonsense that the only way they can appear to be ‘tough’ is when they are also sticking the boot into the very people they should be seeking to protect.

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