Tuesday, 30 July 2013

An unfair dismissal thought experiment

In a departure from my usual writing style I'm going to produce this article in the style of a thought experiment.
Firstly I'd like you to think of someone that is dear to you. Think of someone who is a diligent hard worker and takes pride in doing things properly. We all know someone who takes pride in their work: a father, a sister, a child or a firm friend.

Now imagine that this specific person is sacked by their employer on the flimsiest of grounds. Perhaps they complained about a safety violation at work, perhaps they had taken time off due to childbirth or a bereavement in the family, perhaps they were deemed too active in the trade union movement, perhaps they began suffering a serious illness or disability, perhaps they were a whistleblower, or perhaps they simply refused to give their boss a blowjob.
Now imagine this person thrust into financial uncertainty, their salary is no more, yet the bills and the financial commitments they have just keep accumulating. They are certain that they deserve unfair dismissal compensation, but then they find out that the government has slashed the amount they would have been entitled to, and large upfront fees have been put in place in order to deter them from lodging an unfair dismissal case, and another enormous fee is payable if the case actually reaches tribunal.
If your loved one has someone to turn to for financial assistance, that may be lucky for them, however many people with the hard-worker mentality also have a lot of pride when it comes to financial matters. A lot of people are too proud to ask their best friend, their father, their brother or perhaps a distant wealthy uncle to lend them £1,200. Would your loved one be one of these people that are too proud to beg?

If your loved one has nobody to turn to, or they're too proud to ask for help, who can they turn to? They can't turn to a high street bank. The likelihood of a bank lending a large sum to an individual without a salary in these economic circumstances is very low indeed. Perhaps they could turn to a No-Win No-Fee lawyer? The problem with this is that the government have already confiscated a large chunk of their compensation entitlement, a No-Win, No-Fee lawyer is just going to take another significant chunk out of the compensation, leaving your loved one with a mere fraction of what they deserve as compensation for their unfair sacking.

Perhaps your loved one scrapes together enough to cover the upfront legal fees, but they are left in dire poverty as the process of seeking legal redress spans into weeks and months. Perhaps their sheer financial desperation leaves than with no other choice but to turn to a Payday lender (that charges some 5,000% APR) for just enough cash to make ends meet.

Perhaps then your loved one finds out that the Chairman of the group that administers the Payday lending company they have turned to donated well over £500,000 to the Conservative party. The very party that introduced the new legislation to slash unfair dismissal entitlements and compel payment of upfront fees before people are even allowed to seek legal redress for their unfair sacking.

Imagine your loved one in this desperate situation. Would they be too proud to cry at this injustice?
Now imagine that they found out that the millionaire donor to the Conservative party was actually the one that drew up the new unfair dismissal legislation for the Conservative party in the first place.

What would their reaction to this information be?

Would they be angry? Would they adopt a stoic attitude? Would they meekly accept that injustices like these are just the way things are in modern Britain?
This isn't some fanciful tale. The process that has been described here will happen to the loved ones of thousands of people across the country as the new unfair dismissal legislation comes into force (with the active complicity of the Liberal Democrats). Perhaps these loved ones won't know about the role of the major Tory party donor with financial links to the Payday loan sector in all of this, but desperate circumstances like these will certainly happen to thousands of people's loved ones nonetheless.
  • The major Conservative party donor with a major financial interest in the Payday lending sector, Adrian Beecroft did actually design the new unfair dismissal legislation in a policy document called The Beecroft Report (which was originally lambasted by Liberal Democrats like Vince Cable, but then formed the backbone of the reforms he pushed through parliament).

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The Beecroft Report: A corporatist wishlist
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What do Tory donors get for their money?
What is ... neoliberalism?
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Mixed economy vs Neoliberalism
George Osborne's economic extremism
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