Unite Demands Government Ends Umbrella Companies

Unite Acting General Secretary Demands End To Umbrella Companies Rip Off

Unite, now the UKs biggest union for construction workers, has called for ‘umbrella companies’ to be outlawed after a BBC report exposed how construction workers are falling victim to wage theft.

The union made its demand after BBC Look North on February 24 carried an expose on how workers operating via umbrella companies in construction and other sectors are having huge deductions taken from their pay.

Umbrella company workers have to pay employers’ and employees’ national insurance contributions as well as income tax, a tax rate of 45.8 pence in the pound on eligible earnings.

Workers often have their holiday pay rolled into the rate, meaning they are unpaid when taking leave. If they pay into an auto-enrolment pension they have to pay both employee and employer contributions. Umbrella company workers have to pay a fee of around ÂŁ20 a week to be paid in this manner.

The huge growth in umbrella companies operating in construction began in April 2014. This was a result of government legislation which attempted to outlaw employment agencies from bogusly self-employing construction workers.

Overnight the industry moved to the umbrella company model in order to avoid paying employer’s NI contributions.

Unite have recently established a bogus self-employment unit to step up their support of members who are being denied basic employment rights. The unit is also targeting umbrella companies.

Acting general secretary, Gail Cartmail, said: “Umbrella companies are highly immoral and rip off workers. The government need to end the misery of umbrella company workers by outlawing this practice and all forms of bogus self-employment.”
“Unite has already succeeded in outlawing umbrella companies for example on Hinkley Point. The Scottish and Welsh governments and several local authorities have introduced measures outlawing umbrella companies on public sector contracts. If the government fails to act we will step up pressure on all public and private sector organisations to ban these sinister organisations.”
“The message is loud and clear Unite are coming for rogue employers who increasingly rely on false self-employment. We will leave no stone unturned in exposing the blatant unfairness of umbrella companies, ending exploitation and getting justice for our members.”
The government has previously estimated that 430,000 workers are paid via umbrella companies. Unite believes that this figure is an underestimate as unscrupulous employers in sectors such as logistics, supply teaching and pharmaceuticals are increasingly using this form of employment.


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Trump To Visit Boeing S.C. Plant After Anti Union Vote

Following on from the good news of the withdrawal of his nomination for US Labor Secretary by Andrew Pudzer, US unions suffered a setback when workers at Boeing’s South Carolina plants voted against recognition of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union following massive pressure and a fierce anti union campaign by the company and local politicians. 74% of 2800 workers voted against the union. South Carolina is one of the least unionised states in the USA.

US President Donald Trump is expected to appear at the plant today celebrate the rollout of the first 787-10 jet liner, the largest version of the Boeing Dreamliner.

The vote came two years after the Machinists union had called off a vote at the South Carolina facilities following widespread misinformation and ‘unrelenting pressure from local politicians’.

The Machinists union were confident that this time workers would vote for a union citing management’s unfair approach to evaluating staff, pay raises and promotions.

Workers complained that instructions on performing their jobs changed from month to month. Production and maintenance workers in South Carolina, make $23 per hour on average, compared to about $31 per hour for comparable workers in Washington State.

Boeing’s efforts to defeat the union organising campaign proved too strong. The company using well tested anti union messages implied to workers that a union would drive a wedge between them and management and they also used the machinists’ union’s opposition to its 2009 decision to open a second Dreamliner assembly line in South Carolina.

The union back then had argued that opening the plant would undermine the protected right to strike of tens of thousands of Boeing workers in Washington State, and the machinists filed a charge against the company with the National Labor Relations Board.

Opponents of unionisation also ran a series of adverts opposing the union, including one depicting the machinists union as a casino boss who wanted workers to gamble away their future.

Critics of the union say they rushed the campaign to unionise the S.C. sites before Trump could appoint two new members to the N.L.R.B., which would give Republicans a majority on the board.

Mike Evans, the lead organizer for the machinists’ union, said the union had moved to hold the vote ‘because it believed it had finally built sufficient support among workers’.

The N.L.R.B.’s make-up will be a factor in future organizing campaigns as a Republican board could undo rules enacted in 2015 to expedite the union election process, a move widely viewed as helping organizers.


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Anti Union Pudzer Withdraws From Nomination For USLabour Secretary

By Tony Burke : Chair, Campaign For Trade Union Freedom

Many trade unionists in the USA have a ‘spring in their step’ today (Wednesday 16th February) after learning that Donald Trump’s nominee for US Labour Secretary Andrew Pudzer withdrew his nomination when he recognised the uphill climb he was facing on Capitol Hill.

Pudzer the CEO of fast food chain giant CKE Restaurants, (owners of Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s outlets) was due to appear before the Senate health, education, labour and pensions committee Thursday

Pudzer’s nomination was facing opposition from unions, progressive groups, democrats and even some republicans.

The US Department of Labor website states that its mission is to “foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.”

Puzder’s pedigree showed that he was likely to fall foul of the statement – as he has done the exact opposite of what the mission statement requires.

He has fought against workers’ rights; argued against increases in minimum wages; argued for replacing workers with robots and “and showed disdain for his own employees –   the very people who helped make him a multi millionaire” according to Sarah Baker who led the vetting team in the White House during Obama’s presidency.

It transpires that Puzder employed an ‘undocumented immigrant’ and never paid taxes – and he would have been responsible for wage and working hours standards, benefits and providing protection for workers.

Adverts for his Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s outlets have been described as ‘pornographic’ and ‘sexist’ – depicting scantily clad women in bikini’s eating burgers. Pudzer naturally disagreed calling the adverts ‘American’.

In 1990, Puzder’s ex-wife went on the Oprah TV show (in diguise) and alledged that Pudzer abused her – a claim she has since withdrawn.

Richard Tumka the President of the US union umbrella organization the AFL-CIO says “the power of collective action” brought Pudzer down.

Unions and progressive groups have organized demonstrations against Pudzer since his nomination was announced, with a remarkable degree of success.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), staged protests around the country, the largest outside of CKE’s St. Louis headquarters.

Mindful of the blue collar support for Trump among their own members unions made Puzder the focus of a campaign to portray Trump as a tool for corporate interests who favours low wages and exploitation.

Thomas Perez, the former US secretary of labour who is in the running to lead the Democratic National Committee, called Pudzer a “frequent flyer defendant – someone for whom we had a steady diet of wage and hour cases”.

“When you call your workers the ‘the worst of the worst,’ (as Pudzer has done) that’s no way to earn or command respect,” Perez said.

This decision was good news but as a US friend and a senior union official told me: “Who knows who Trump will bring forward next? The CEO of Burger King?”

Read more by clicking here: The New Yorker


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Unfair EU-Canada Trade Deal – Wrong Response To Trump

by Pia Eberhardtceta-mailing

Ahead of next week’s Ceta vote in the European Parliament, its proponents are touting the EU-Canada agreement as “the most progressive trade deal ever”.

They claim Ceta will be a blueprint for a fair, social and environmentally-friendly trade policy and will shape globalisation in the interest of workers and ordinary citizens.

A yes to Ceta would also allegedly send a strong message of support for a rules-based trading system, which is at stake under US president Donald Trump.

But it is precisely Ceta’s rules that are the problem.

They will further shape globalisation in the interest of corporations, without providing any effective protection for workers or the environment. They will also significantly limit democracy.

Special privileges for foreign investors

These grant Canadian investors the exclusive right to bypass European courts by suing the EU and member states before international tribunals.

Since CETA includes largely the same investor rights as existing trade and investment deals corporations will be able to claim compensation if a certain policy – say health or environmental protection – threatens their investments.

Governments could even be ordered to compensate corporations for lost hypothetical future profits. Past cases have seen billion dollar payouts, primarily to large corporations such as Siemens, ExxonMobil and Deutsche Bank.

Under Ceta, investor-state tribunals would be transparent and publicly appointed. But lucrative daily rates of $3,000 for the arbitrators would remain a strong incentive to rule in favour of investors.

Moreover, the risk of being sued under Ceta would be even greater than with existing agreements. It would, for instance, be easier for investors to challenge banking regulations than under Nafta.

Ceta’s explicit protection of investors’ legitimate expectations grants them a powerful weapon to fight democratic policies.

And due to the strong integration of the Canadian and the US economy, many US companies will be able to sue too.

Giant corporations like Chevron are rubbing their hands over what is effectively TTIP through the back door and this may well apply to some of Trump’s businesses as well.

Liberalising services

For the first time in an EU treaty, Ceta’s services chapter will follow a negative list approach pushed by corporate lobby groups.

What this means is that all services – unless explicitly excluded – will be deregulated, but the exceptions are patchy. Most worryingly, there is no exception which shields public services from investor-state lawsuits.

Regulations in sectors such as healthcare or water could potentially be attacked by expensive compensation claims.

This already happened to Estonia, facing a €90 million investor lawsuit because public authorities refused to increase water prices.

Ordered to pay €22 million in damages after the government required health insurers to operate on a not-for-profit basis. Not

It has already happened to Slovakia, hing in Ceta prevents such investor attacks on decisions in the public interest.

These examples illustrate the anti-democratic nature of Ceta and other trade agreements like TTIP, a draft EU-US deal, and the EU-Japan deal; they lock in existing property and economic relations by enshrining them in international law, severely restricting space for democratic policy to change them.

Canadian political scientist Stephen Gill calls this the “new constitutionalism”, a global neoliberal constitution that renders the transition to a more just socially and ecologically just society impossible.

But what is missing from Ceta is revealing, for instance, effectively enforceable labour rights, or a sanction mechanism to implement Ceta’s environmental standards or obligations for corporations.

Economist Thomas Piketty suggested there should be no more trade liberalisation without sanctionable minimum rates for corporate taxes and emission reductions. Unsurprisingly, Piketty considers Ceta “a treaty which belongs to another age” that should be rejected.

Trump’s agenda at home, on the other hand, fits neatly with the basic thrust of Ceta.

He has initiated a new era of deregulation, demolishing feeble advances on financial regulation and retreating from obligations on climate action.

To please big business he has also just vowed to remove a staggering 75 percent of existing regulations. He has even hinted at shutting down the key institution supporting environmental regulation entirely.

At a time of looming climate catastrophe, a widening gap between the rich and the poor and the rise of the far right in many places, it is downright cynical to call Ceta “a deal that brings fairer trade for all”.

Ceta includes many provisions that risk exacerbating the exact same social problems fuelling the inhumane politics of Trump, Le Pen and Co: social inequality, political exclusion and a crisis of democracy brought about by the neoliberal doctrine of “no alternative”.

What we need is a paradigm shift towards an inclusive trade policy that is founded on the needs of people and our planet. Ratifying Ceta will take us yet further away from this.

Pia Eberhardt works with Brussels-based lobby watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory

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Right Wing May Government Presses Forward With Anti-Union Laws

4013982334_346ced4852_mBy Adrian Weir, Assistant Secretary, CTUF

The Government has recently published draft regulations on an important aspect of its Trade Union Act concerning the application of the additional 40% ballot threshold in industrial action ballots.

The additional 40% specifies that in important public services at least 40% of eligible voters must vote in favour of industrial action. This is in addition to the general requirement to obtain at least 50% turnout in a ballot for a union to retain its immunity.

Regulations on the standard 50% and other aspects of industrial action are still up for debate and have not yet been published.

The five separate additional 40% Regulations cover health, transport, education, fire and border security and will probably come into force on 1 March. Caught in the Government’s net are workers providing:

  • medical services; such as ambulance services, accident and emergency services in hospitals, services in high dependency units and intensive care in hospitals, emergency psychiatric services, and emergency and midwifery services;
  • transport services; such as London buses, passenger rail services (including maintenance and some station services but not including international rail services), air traffic control services, and airport and port security services;
  • teaching services at non-fee paying schools and academies for students aged 16-19;
  • firefighting services;
  • border control services, such as patrol, inspection and intelligence services.

The Government intends to introduce a one year transition period for the “opt in” arrangements for unions’ Political Funds but has withdrawn its draft Regulations. It will return to this issue shortly, almost certainly keeping the one year transitional period.

During 2017, the Government will review and/or consult on:

  • electronic voting for industrial action ballots
  • new powers for the Certification Officer
  • union facility time and check off arrangements.


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Leaving The ECJ: What Will It Mean?

Professor Keith Ewing, President of the Campaign For Trade Union Freedom

Professor Keith Ewing, President of the Campaign For Trade Union Freedom

It’s not possible for the Tories to both protect workers’ rights and satisfy their red line demand that the European Court of Justice should have no legal effect in Britain, writes Professor Keith Ewing, president of the Campaign For Trade Union Freedom.

Now that Brexit is inching closer, a number of questions are becoming more urgent. Not least is the question of workers’ rights.

What is to happen to the great body of labour law that derives from the EU?

Social Europe may be dead but there is an inheritance to protect. The Tories have promised that workers’ rights will be guaranteed. But they also promised that Brexit would ensure extra funding for the NHS. How equally hollow is the promise on workers’ rights?

Hard Brexit will expose workers’ rights on three fronts. In the first place, it means that any new rights that are developed at EU level will obviously not apply in Britain (or to those parts that voted Remain).

There is not much in the pipeline at the moment. But there are, nevertheless, proposals in the admittedly weak European Social Pillar for the protection of workers in the new tech industries for better transparency in the employment relationship and for EU unfair dismissal laws. These will not apply here.

A second consequence is that even if Social Europe is dead, rather than dying, there is still the framework of existing rights and the opportunity to develop them through litigation and access to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

For those on the left, there is of course the haunting impact of the Viking and Laval cases, placing the rights of business above the rights of workers; the right to freedom of establishment trumping (in every sense of the word) the right to strike.

We are also traumatised by the recent Usdaw case in which the Collective Redundancies Directive was narrowly interpreted to defeat claims by workers who had been employed by Woolies, and before that the Alemo-Herron case in which the Acquired Rights Directive was narrowly applied in the interests of business where public services are outsourced. As a result, workers lost the right to the continuing protection of collective agreements that had previously applied.

But while all that may be true, there have also been important victories. On equal pay, it was the ECJ that established in Britain the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. And on discrimination, it was the same court that swept away the arbitrary and artificial limit on damages that had been imposed in domestic law. On working time, it was the ECJ that established the right of all workers to holiday pay, removing the Blair government’s denial of holiday pay to Bectu members employed on short-term contracts.

Also on holiday pay, it was the ECJ that addressed the problem of employers basing holiday pay entitlement on part rather than all of the worker’s normal wages, and the other problem of employers preventing workers in some cases (notably illness) from carrying over holiday pay from one year to the next.

It stamped out other working time abuses, such as employers not treating as working time the periods spent on call at the workplace, and employers not paying holiday pay because it is already rolled up in (inadequate) monthly or weekly wages.

True, it will not be a disaster if we are denied access to the ECJ, but it will be a significant loss all the same. If the existing EU rights are “novated” into British law as part of the process of the “Great Repeal Bill” promised by the Tories, the substance of these rights will be determined by the British courts whose decisions led to many of these successful challenges in the ECJ. It will lead inevitably to a two-tier system of employment law in which our EU origin rights will as a result of litigation fall behind those operating in the EU 27.

Brexit thus means more power for the British courts and more opportunities for British judges to protect workers’ rights.

There may be some on the left who are content as a result. If so, they have a poor grasp of history.

But this of course is not the end of it. A third consequence of a hard Brexit is that there is nothing to stop the Tories chipping away at EU origin employment rights, while retaining the basic structure. What is to stop the Tories restoring the restrictions on holiday pay that were ruled unlawful in the Bectu case?

And what is to stop them revisiting Beecroft and reinstating the limit on compensation in discrimination cases? The answer is nothing.

After the “Great Repeal Bill” this will all be British law, albeit EU origin British law, and it can be changed with impunity.

The Tories can keep the agency workers’ regulations, but respond to business demands that they should provide even less protection. They can keep redundancy consultation but follow Vince Cable down the path of limiting the obligations on employers.

Should these or other steps be taken, there will be no right of access to the ECJ to put a brake on the government. If, as seems likely, our economy is to be tied even more closely to that of the US — as the May government begins to look across the Atlantic rather than the Channel — the prospects of continuing deregulation on a serious scale are by no means unrealistic. But about all that is left to deregulate are the rag bag of EU employment rights whose future existence now relies on the slender thread of a promise by May and David Davis.

That promise is built on a contradiction: it is not possible for the Tories simultaneously to protect workers’ rights and satisfy their red line demand that the ECJ should have no legal effect in Britain. A choice has to be made. The right choice is clearly set out in the Workers’ Rights (Maintenance of EU Standards) Bill 2016, recently presented to Parliament by Labour and SNP MPs, which in a Schedule reveals the breathtaking scale of our dependence on EU law for protection in the workplace.

Not only does that Bill seek to preserve these rights post-Brexit as a platform on which a future progressive government could build, but it does so by requiring that in “all legal proceedings [before the UK courts], any question as to the meaning or effect of any EU Worker Right shall be determined in accordance with the principles laid down by and any relevant judgment of the ECJ.”

The latter is an essential feature of any future settlement. But it is unlikely to be the choice made by May and her hapless government.

Keith Ewing is is professor of public law at King’s College London and president of the Institute of Employment Rights and Campaign For Trade Union Freedom.

This article first appeared in the Morning Star on January 31st, 2017

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Brexit White Paper Leaves Questions On Workers’ Rights

TUC General Secretary, Frances O'Grady

TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady

Commenting on the white paper published this week on the government’s Brexit strategy, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“The white paper tells us little we did not already know, and still leaves working people exposed to risks to their rights and jobs. And it says nothing about how the NHS and our public services will be protected in trade deals from predatory international companies.

“While it’s good to see the government maintain its commitment to protecting existing workers’ rights, people need to know the government won’t seek to compete in a race to the bottom that allows their rights to fall behind workers in the rest of Europe. So Theresa May should confirm that future trade deals with the EU will include a commitment to abide by minimum EU requirements for workers’ rights.

“The government has set out its aspirations for trade agreements once we’ve left the EU. But there’s little explanation of how jobs and living standards will be kept safe while those deals are negotiated. This is especially important if we are to run the bigger risks that come with leaving the single market too. The Chancellor must use his budget to show how people’s jobs and living standards will be protected.”

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Letter To US Senators Urging Them to Reject the Nomination Of Andrew Puzder For US Labor Secretary

richard_trumka-APNick-Ut-640x480January 31st , 2017

Dear Senator:

President Trump’s nomination of Andrew Puzder to be U.S. Secretary of Labor betrays the promise he made to put working people first. Puzder’s record as the CEO of fast food corporation CKE Restaurant, as well as his public statements, reflect not only a callous disregard for the welfare of workers, but also a shocking ignorance of the agency’s important mission. On behalf of the twelve and a half million members of the AFL-CIO, I urge you to reject this nomination.

Under President Obama, the Department of Labor (DOL) brought new energy and focus to its mission of improving Americans’ wages and working conditions. It made important progress in every area under its jurisdiction, from wage and hour enforcement to workplace health and safety and protecting Americans’ retirement security. Based on what we know of Andrew Puzder, all of these gains are in danger of being wiped out should he be confirmed.

Over the last eight years, by focusing on low-wage industries where workers are more vulnerable to being cheated out of their wages, the DOL secured nearly $1.6 billion in back pay for over 1.7 million workers whose employers flouted the law. If put in charge, Puzder would almost certainly weaken or repeal these enforcement initiatives – during his tenure, his company has been cited for over 1,000 wage and hour violations. Puzder’s rationale for not paying managers their earned overtime is that the “sense of accomplishment” and “stature” that comes from not punching a clock should be compensation enough.

Puzder has not been shy about expressing his opposition to improving overtime protection or raising the minimum wage from its current $7.25 an hour—not adequate to keep even a full-time worker out of poverty—to just $10.10 an hour. Although the last Republican –controlled Congress repeatedly thwarted efforts to raise the minimum wage, the Obama administration did raise it for federal contract workers. Given Puzder’s pronouncement that the government should “get out of the way” rather than raise the minimum wage, we have no doubt that he would like to torpedo even this modest progress.

The Obama DOL also cracked down on businesses that try to evade their legal obligations to their employees by misclassifying them as independent contractors, bringing in long-term “temporary” workers, contracting out work to outside firms, or abusing the franchise model. In FY 2015 alone, DOL investigations of low-wage industries, where misclassification is rampant, resulted in the payment of more than $74 million in back wages for 102,000 workers. It is crucially important that the next Labor Department continue this important work to ensure that workers receive the critical benefits and protections to which they are entitled. We are skeptical that Puzder would continue these enforcement initiatives concerning worker protections, given his vehement opposition to the NLRB “joint employer” decision and complaint against McDonald’s, both of which rein in employers’ ability to manipulate the franchise business model to their advantage.

Under President Obama, enforcement of worker protection laws was strengthened with increased focus on employers who repeatedly and flagrantly violate the law. The DOL issued landmark job safety regulations on silica, coal dust and other workplace hazards that will save hundreds of lives a year. Overall, workplace fatalities and injuries have declined—2016 was the safest year in the history of the mining industry, with a record low number and rate of mining deaths.

By contrast, Puzder’s record on workplace health and safety is extremely alarming. In recent years under his leadership, serious OSHA violations resulted in Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s employees requiring hospitalization because of serious burns; his company was fined tens of thousands of dollars. Not surprisingly, Puzder strongly opposes the DOL core functions of regulating and enforcing workplace health and safety. Allowing Puzder to assume the Labor Department helm could roll back important regulations and weaken government oversight and enforcement.  It means more worker injuries, illnesses, and even death.

The Labor Department’s most important accomplishment in the area of retirement security is finalizing its “fiduciary rule,” which requires that retirement investment advice be in the client’s best interest, not tainted by the advisor’s conflicts of interest. One analysis found that retirement savers lose as much as $17 billion a year from financial advisors’ conflicted advice. The retirement savings plan of Pudzer’s corporation gives us little confidence that he will be supportive of this long-overdue rule, since it evidences little commitment to workers’ retirement security.  Since 2011, there have been no employer contributions; it carries high-fee investments, has low participation, and is generally inferior to many of its counterpart plans in the fast food industry.

Last, we believe it sends a terrible message to the working women of this country to put a leader in charge of the Labor Department who boasts about his company’s advertisements featuring scantily clad women. The Labor Department enforces numerous laws protecting the rights of working women. They deserve a champion of women’s workplace rights at the helm of the Labor Department—not somebody with offensive and misguided views.

The record is clear. Andrew Puzder is in no way an appropriate candidate to head the U.S. Department of Labor. We urge you to reject his nomination.

Thank you for your consideration of our views.


Richard L. Trumka, President, AFL-CIO 

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70% Fall In Tribunal Cases Down To Fee’s Say UK Unions

tribunal_1758948a-1The number of cases brought to employment tribunals has fallen by 70% since fees were introduced, a government review has found. Unions called for the fees of up to ÂŁ950 to be scrapped.

The number of multiple claims taken to employment tribunals fell from 5,847 before fees were introduced to 1,740 in the year afterwards (2014-15) – a reduction of 70%. The number of single cases fell by a similar percentage.

TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “The government is turning a blind eye to the impact of tribunal fees. Thousands are being priced out from pursuing cases each month. Charging people to take a claim has been a gift to Britain’s worst bosses, and it’s allowed discrimination at work to flourish unchallenged.”

The Ministry of Justice engaged in some fact twising by saying: “While there is clear evidence that ET fees have discouraged people from bringing claims, there is no conclusive evidence that they have been prevented from doing so.”

But Unite’s Len McCluskey responded by saying: “The government is dealing in ‘alternative facts’ to claim that both the fall in employment tribunal applications is greater than they anticipated and that people are not losing out. The actual facts are that when working people are priced out of justice, and it is made exceptionally difficult for their unions to pursue it on their behalf, then the only winners are bad employers.”

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of Unison said: “The introduction of fees was a terrible decision. The lord chancellor should be big enough now to accept her department got this one badly wrong. Tribunal fees should be scrapped immediately before any more law-breaking employers escape punishment because wronged workers simply don’t have the cash to take them to court.”

General Secretary of PCS Mark Serwotka, said: “This review, slipped out while MPs are debating Brexit, shows a government not only content with closing off justice for workers but also celebrating a fall in discrimination claims as ‘broadly positive’”.

The MoJ proposed to increase the monthly income threshold for individuals to qualify for a fee waiver from £1,085 to £1,250, broadly the equivalent of full-time employment earnings on the national living wage.

Certain claims relating to insolvent employers will no longer require fees, effective immediately.

The Government’s proposals for reform are currently subject to consultation, closing on 13th March 2017.


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Labour MPs Shoot Down Anti-Union 10 Minute Rule Bill

PAY-Southern-Rail-train-strikeBy Adrian Weir

Last week Tory MP for Croydon Chris Philp introduced the Industrial Action (Protection of Critical National Services) Bill under 10 Minute Rule which called for transport unions to wait for authority from the High Court before they could take industrial action.

Philp told the Press Association he thought his proposals have “good prospects” of eventually becoming law but the Bill was quickly defeated by Labour when it was heard. However, it provides an insight into the ideology followed by many Conservative backbenchers.

The backbencher’s proposals included having a High Court judge rule on whether industrial action within sectors like transport was “reasonable and proportionate” before it could go ahead. In addition, transport union would be required to provide a “skeleton service” on strike days, even if strike action is allowed to go ahead – thereby removing the leverage trade unions currently holds to equalise the imbalance of power between employers and workers.

Philp stated that his plans would balance the “right to strike” with the “right to get to work”, but putting such restrictions on the right to strike would mean that unions have very little power in negotiations with employers over wages and conditions, tipping the balance even further in the favour of employers.

The MP based many of his proposals on the recent strikes on Southern Rail, which he claimed was disproportionate.

It seems the public disagrees, as a recent survey of survey of 1,000 people conducted by the Association for British Commuters (ABC) found that only 5% thought the unions (RMT and ASLEF) were entirely to blame for the strikes, with over half blaming either the Department for Transport or Southern Rail.

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