UNISON vows to continue fight in England

Tim Lezard Europe, Scotland, UK, Unison,
Employment Tribunal ETProspect has welcomed a commitment by first minister Nicola Sturgeon to prioritise the abolition of employment tribunal fees once new powers outlined in the Scotland Bill are transferred to Holyrood.

Prospect national secretary for Scotland Alan Denney said: “This has been an issue that Prospect has campaigned on across the UK.

“We are very pleased that the Scottish government has identified this as a priority, and we look forward to working with ministers on this, and other issues, to make Scotland a better and fairer place for our members to work.”

The union says the introduction of fees for employment tribunals has had a dramatic impact on the numbers pursuing claims.

Across the UK, between April and June 2014, single claims were 70% down on the same period in 2013 – before fees were introduced. It costs £1,200 to take a claim of unfair dismissal or discrimination to a tribunal, while the charge for bringing claims for unpaid wages or holiday pay is £390 – which can be more than the sum being claimed.

In England, UNISON has vowed to take its battle to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal last week rejected its appeal against the government’s introduction of employment tribunal fees.

Describing this case as ‘troubling’, the Court of Appeal expressed a ‘strong suspicion that so large a decline [in claims] is unlikely to be accounted for entirely by cases of ‘won’t pay’ and [that] it must also reflect at least some cases of ‘can’t pay’.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The decision is a huge disappointment and a major setback for people at work. Many unscrupulous employers will be rubbing their hands together in glee at the news.

“There is stark evidence that workers are being priced out of justice and it is women, the disabled and the low-paid who are being disproportionately punished.

“Our fight for fairness at work and access to justice for all will continue until these unfair and punitive fees are scrapped.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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