Tony Greenstein | 12 May 2013 | Post Views:

Frances O’Grady – the first woman head of the TUC – learnt her  traditions of backstabbing from Brendan Barber well

Or would it take an attack on Dave Prentis’s expense  account to bring howls and threats of direct action?

What the banner should say is ‘Prentis hands off our pensions’

On Thursday this week the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act was given Royal Assent.  Let us take a step back.

In 1971, at the height of the ‘wild-cat’ unofficial strike movement, the Ted Heath government conceded the right not to be unfairly dismissed.  Through the influence of Europe a raft of anti-discrimination law, TUPE and the Working Time Regulations.  The Human Rights Act 1998 also has had an effect on interpretation.

One wonders how many of the  dunderheads who voted UKIP realise that they are further to the right than the Tories.

Apart from extending the qualifying period for unfair dismissal from 1 to 2 years, making all claimants see ACAS first, it pulls a neat stroke.  Unfair dismissal compensation will be a maximum of one year’s salary, around £78,000 per year.  However you will only be able to obtain a maximum of one years salary.

They are not going to abolish most rights, they are going to make it impossible to afford to go to a tribunal by paying £1,200 to have a case set down.  This is equally applicable to Whistleblowing.  So in the wake of Stafford NHS scandal, Savile et. al the  government is going to make it harder to blow the whistle.  If you are a victim of racism you will have to pay £1,200 if you want to seek redress against the racist.  If you are a woman, then an ‘ordinary’ case of sexual harassment won’t get off the starting blocks.  Only rich women, gay people and Black people will be able to afford to to to Employment Tribunal.

Prentis of UNISON in a fighting mode – as he always is till conference has ended

Employment law will increasingly become the prerogative of bankers and the highest-paid workers.  Laws against racial harassment will be meaningless if they cannot be enforced.  And the TUC’s ‘think thank’ will continue churning out pamphlets that no-one reads.

And what has the now ‘feminised’ TUC under Frances O’Grady done to campaign against this?  Absolutely bugger all.  At a stroke a historic gain, won by workers who stood for no nonsense from bullying employers, has been wiped out, with the support of Ed ‘millionaire’ Miliband and his ‘blue dog’ Labourites.

John Hendy QC – legal mouthpiece for the IER

On 12th November I wrote to the IER and Director, Carolyn Jones.  After initially receiving no reply I wrote again.  The IER is effectively a front organisation for the Communist Party of Britain (Morning Star).

Carolyn Jones – Director of the stalinist IER

Jones’s response was that ‘As a charity IER is not as such a campaigning organisation.’  This is a lie.  The IER has campaigned for a Trade Union Freedom Bill which is hardly likely to be passed by the present government when it is busy stripping away workers’ rights, led by that good ‘liberal’ Vince Cable. Defence of existing rights are likely to be more successful in such a situation. 

Even the Employment Law Association has done more to campaign against the fees and their implications than the TUC and the trade union leadership. It seems that the TUC and its offshoots have become so addicted to defeat that they are unable to imagine a situation where they might, in part, be successful.

It seems that the TUC and its offshoots have become so addicted to
defeat that they are unable to imagine a situation where they might, in
part, be successful

Public Concern at Work, is also non-political, but unlike the IER is an effective campaigning charity.  It has nonetheless secured major amendments to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, including a statutory reversal of Fecitt v NHS Manchester [2012] ICR 372 which determined that vicarious liability did not attach to an employer for their employees’ actions.  Likewise they secured the abolition of the good faith test as a condition of a disclosure being protected.

The Tories said the unions were holding the country ‘to ransom’.  The bankers are however a major ‘industry’.  It’s this that Ted Heath and the TUC sought to put an end to

It would have been relatively easy if, in the wake of the Savile, Stafford NHS and other scandals, IER and the TUC had campaigned against fees on the grounds that someone exposing wrongdoing, in addition to all the other risks, would now have to pay for the privilege.  Instead they said nothing and sat on their hands.

Employment rights legislation was not handed on a plate to workers.  It was a culmination of the inability of union leaders to control their own members.  Hundreds of thousands of workers each year use the tribunal system, including trade unionists.  The effect of these proposals will undoubtedly mean that unions become even more selective in funding cases involving their own members, turning down otherwise meritorious cases.

A traditional ‘wild-cat’ strike that obtained workers’ rights

Oh and just in case you thought you might get a fee waiver if you’ve been sacked. Sorry.  That’s also been tightened up.  If you have a house worth more than £100,000 then that will count towards your fees.

Tony Greenstein

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013

The final text of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 has been published, coming in at a mere 292 pages.  Sections 7-24, and Schedule 2, are the ones which are relevant to employment practitioners.
Notes for editors
1. The Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 23 May 2012, and completed its passage on 24 April 2013.
2. The provisions which come into force on Royal Assent include:

  • A power to include review and sunset provisions in secondary legislation, which streamlines implementation of the government policy on such provisions first published in March 2011.
  • A prohibition on Acas disclosing specified information except in certain defined circumstances such as criminal investigation.
  • All the order-making powers (that is power to make provisions by means of secondary legislation) come into force, which means that they are available to be exercised.
  • 3. Further provisions will come into force on 25 June namely:
  • Certain provisions on employment (Part 2) as follows:
  • Ensuring that the 2 year qualification period for employment will not apply where the main reason for dismissal is the employee’s political opinions or affiliation.
  • Simplifying the procedures and costs of deciding tribunal cases
  • New provisions on whistleblowing
  • Certain other repeals:
  • Abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales, (although the current Agricultural Wage Order will remain in place until 1st October 2013, and similarly applications to Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committees will be permitted until that date)

4. Most other provisions are planned to come into effect in October 2013 or April 2014. A detailed implementation timetable will be published on the BIS website shortly.

Tony Greenstein

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