Lib Dems Panic Over Employment Tribunal Fees

BIS Minister Jo Swinson - in panic over ET fees

BIS Minister Jo Swinson – in panic over ET fees

By Tony Burke, Chair Campaign For Trade Union Freedom

The Liberal Democrats have gone into panic mode as applications to Employment Tribunals plummet following the introduction of stringent fees to bring a case before a Tribunal.

There has been a 70% fall in the number of applications to employment tribunals with lawyers reporting that in some areas such as sex discrimination, it is down 85%.

Workers have been have been priced out of the tribunal system which the Lib Dems steered through parliament notably Vince Cable and Jo Swinson.

The figures have shocked some MPs and the Lib Dems fearing a major backlash have moved to distance themselves from the effects of the fees by demanding a urgent review.

Unions, employment lawyers and employers organisations predicted the massive fall in applications and the effect it would have on workplace justice.

Employment tribunal fees could become an electoral battleground as workers see there little chance of gaining redress for injustices at work particularly non unionised workers, who have no back up of union legal support.

The Ministry of Justice introduced fees of  £1,200 to workers wishing to go to tribunal – a plan hatched by George Osborne at the 2011 Conservative party conference. But the Lib Dems did the dirty work through BIS, as they did for the failed “shares for rights scheme”.

The MoJ had pledged to review the system a year after its introduction last July. It then said it would take place in the autumn, but still nothing has happened.

All this has prompted the Lib Dem employment minister Jo Swinson to panic and to write to legal aid minister Shailesh Vara to demand an urgent review: “There is a clear, necessary and now increasingly urgent need for this review to take place,” she said. “As a Government, we committed at the time of their introduction to review the impact of fees and, 18 months on, this is now long overdue”.

Breathtaking isn’t it?

But Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna pointed out that the Lib Dems were part of the Government that introduced the fees in the first place, calling Ms Swinson’s letter “a cynical and utterly shameless attempt to distance her party from tribunal fees just five months before the general election”.

The Ministry of Justice points out that more people are going to arbitration instead of employment tribunals – which is not surprising as cases automatically are reffered to conciliation in the first instance before a ET case can be brought!

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1 Response to Lib Dems Panic Over Employment Tribunal Fees

  1. Phil Cosgrove says:

    Surprise! surprise! but then the Tories are promising to return Britain back to the 1930s, where there was no social justice never mind justice and what is Labour going to do? Well as Boris Johnson sneering stated Labour were all “What do we want- cuts but not as fast as proposed by the Tories and Lib Dems!” Labour is in for a shock in Scotland, which will break away from Britain if Labour keep behaving like”Tory lite”. One way they can prove this is by abolishing Employment Tribunal fees and drop the ridiculous notion of pop-up courts. They should abolish tax havens ensure the Multi-Nationals, hedge funds, banks etc pay their taxes if they don’t then don’t allow them to trade in Britain. This will resolve the PFI problem and the tax revenue problem. Any employer who refuses to pay the living wage should be slapped with an extra tax which then should be redistributed to the workers. Time for redistribution to be rid of austerity. Make the rich pay.

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