Saturday 6 August 2016

The Tory anti-worker tribunal fees are a barrier to justice

In 2013 the Tory party launched a savage crackdown on workers' rights to legal redress when they are abused by bad bosses through the introduction of upfront fees for workers who want to take their bosses to employment tribunals.

This Tory anti-worker legislation means that if your boss sacks you for your age, your gender, your sexual preferences, your trade union activities, your skin colour, your religious views, your pregnancy or even your refusal to suck his dick, then you have to pay £1,200 in upfront fees in order to seek justice. The assumption being that your boss is the innocent victim, and you're the malicious troublemaker guilty of trying to scam money out of your blameless employer.

If your boss steals money out of your wages then you're also assumed to be the guilty party and forced to stump up a fee of £390 to take them to a tribunal for unlawful deduction of wages. This £390 fee applies even if the amount your employer stole from your wages was less than £390!

By introducing such fees the Tories clearly made life a lot easier for unscrupulous bosses who unfairly sack their workers and/or pillage their wages, and a lot harder for employees with abusive or thieving bosses.

Back in 2013 countless people and legal rights organisations warned that sticking a price tag on justice would create a barrier to justice, especially for low-income workers. Others stated that this barrier to justice consequence wasn't just an unintended consequence, but actually the intention of the legislation.

Since the Tory tribunal fees were introduced the number of employment tribunals has fallen by 70%. How stupid would a person have to be to believe that this fall in cases has come about because unscrupulous employers have suddenly and dramatically cleaned up their acts, rather than exploited workers having been priced out of the justice system?

Since the fees were introduced the number of sex discrimination cases has fallen by 68%, the number of equal pay cases has fallen by 58%, the number of pregnancy discrimination cases has fallen by 54% and the number part-time workers cases has fallen by 80%.

It's absolutely clear that huge numbers of the people affected by this Tory anti-worker legislation are low-income, part-time and female workers who have been priced out of seeking legal redress for the unlawful behaviour of their unscrupulous bosses.

Aside from their malicious attacks on workers' rights, the Tories have also engaged on an unprecedented campaign to drive down workers' wages. The Tories have overseen the longest sustained decline in average wages since records began, they've repeatedly attacked the benefits paid to low-income workers, and since the 2007-08 global financial sector meltdown British wages have fallen 10.4% in real terms, which is the biggest slump in wages anywhere in the developed world apart from Greece.

Perhaps the most sickening thing of all about this savage Tory assault on workers' rights and wages is the way that they keep trying to con gullible people into thinking that they're actually on the side of working people with guff like their "Making Work Pay" propaganda campaign and Theresa May's nauseatingly dishonest inaugural speech where she pretended to give a damn about people like the working poor, disabled people and ethnic minorities.

If the Tories were more honest and admitted that they hate workers' rights with a burning ideological passion and will always side with the bosses, then at least we could respect their honesty. However the Tories are well aware that the truth (that they will always serve the interests of the multi-millionaire donors who bankroll their party) is politically toxic, so they lie, and they lie and they lie.

Unfortunately there are a hell of a lot of gullible working people out there who rote learn the Tory lies and actually believe that the Tories are on the side of ordinary workers rather than the kind of unscrupulous bosses who bankroll their party.

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