From the facebook page ‘Atos Mirtacles’ 31st July 2013
From the facebook page “The Peoplevs the Government, DWP and ATOS, 31st July 2013
Steven was awake at 4am this morning, having a full scale meltdown. Crying. Trying to rip his duvet. Pleading for reassurance to the question – “Don’t want new Uxbridge house people keep all Steven Neary’s CDs”. It lasted until 5.30am.
The cat is out of the bag now. I’m struggling enough to contain my anxiety but now that Steven knows we’ve got to move soon, his anxiety has kicked in big time. The day before last, the doorbell went at 8.30 in the evening and it was the new tenants wanting to measure up for curtains. They were excited, full of questions and oblivious to the distress they were causing Steven. I sent them away but it was too late.
15 days to go.
When I sat in the housing benefit office 330 days ago and was delivered the bad news about them stopping my benefit, I never dreamed that…
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From the Facebook page ‘The People vs the Government, DWP and ATOS’, 30th July 2013
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The union Unison has been given permission to seek a judicial review of the introduction of fees for workers seeking employment tribunals. People wanting to bring tribunals must now pay a fee for the first time since they were created in the 1960s. Under the rules, it will cost £160 or £250 to lodge a claim, with a further charge of either £230 or £950 if the case goes ahead.
The judicial review will take place in October.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The introduction of punitive fees for taking a claim to an employment tribunal would give the green light to unscrupulous employers to ride roughshod over already basic workers’ rights.” He added: “We believe that these fees are unfair and should be dropped.”
The higher charges will cover cases such as unfair dismissal, the lower ones issues such as unpaid invoices. HM Courts and Tribunals Service said it would refund people if the bid to abolish the charges succeeded.
Under changes that came into force on Monday, workers in the UK are now charged a fee to bring a claim, a fee if the claim is heard and a further charge if they want to appeal against the decision.
In the Employment Appeal Tribunal, the fees are £400 to lodge an appeal and another £1,200 for a full hearing. Costs are reduced in instances of multiple claims, where two or more people bring claims against the same employer. “The FSB hopes the introduction of fees will curb the number of speculative claims and help reduce the perceived risk of taking on staff” (Federation of Small Businesses)
Employers’ organisation the CBI welcomed the fees, saying they were a good way of “weeding out weak claims”. “Fear of the costs of fighting a tribunal – even when you are in the right – is a massive confidence killer. With firms and employees waiting over a year for a tribunal at the moment, something has to be done to speed things up,” the CBI added.
However, the Unite union said the measures would make British workers “some of the worst protected in the EU”. Another union, the GMB, staged a protest outside an employment tribunal in central London. Andy Prendergast of the GMB, said: “The imposition of such fees represents the latest in a number of attacks on employment rights by the government.” Those claimants unable to pay may apply to have the tribunal fees reduced or waived.
Justice Minister Helen Grant said: “It is not fair on the taxpayer to foot the entire £74m bill for people to escalate workplace disputes to a tribunal. “We want people, where they can afford to do so, to pay a contribution. “It is in everyone’s interest to avoid drawn out disputes which emotionally damage workers and financially damage businesses. That’s why we are encouraging quicker, simpler and cheaper alternatives like mediation.”
“What we are seeing today is injustice writ large as this worker-bashing government takes a sledgehammer to workers’ rights”Len McCluskey General secretary, Unite
‘Throwback to Victorian times’
The number of tribunal claims rose by 81% between 2001 and 2011, with the administrative costs being borne by taxpayers up until now. Chancellor George Osborne announced the plans in 2011. “We are ending the one-way bet against small businesses,” he said at the time. A spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses said: “For an employee, an employment tribunal can be seen as a ‘no cost’ option.” “The FSB hopes the introduction of fees will curb the number of speculative claims and help reduce the perceived risk of taking on staff.”
Unite estimated that this would affect 150,000 workers a year and pledged to pay the employment tribunal costs of its members. “What we are seeing today is injustice writ large as this worker-bashing government takes a sledgehammer to workers’ rights – this is a throwback to Victorian times,” Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said. “Seeking redress for unfair dismissal and discrimination and other injustices in the workplace is a fundamental human right – but now ministers are putting up insurmountable financial hurdles for working people in pursuit of justice.”
Some in Scotland welcomed the move. Eilidh Wiseman, a partner at law firm Dundas and Wilson, said: “I believe anything which helps reduce frivolous claims and speeds up the tribunal system will be welcomed by employers. “One of the effects of the new system should be a rise in the value of settlement offers for low-value claims. Offering £500 as an economic offer to settle is not likely to be attractive to a claimant who has paid £1,200 to bring a claim.”
There were 186,300 claims accepted by employment tribunals in the year to March 2012, according to the Ministry of Justice. Of those, 31% were for unfair dismissal, breach of contract and redundancy. Twenty-seven percent of the 186,300 claims were withdrawn or settled out of court – but employers in those cases still had to pay legal fees in preparing a defence. In 2011-12, the Employment Appeal Tribunal received 2,170 appeals.
David Cameron and Chris Grayling have been messing with the justice system again. This time, according to The Telegraph, they are planning to make it “tougher” for judicial reviews to be brought to court, to stop the process being “abused” by pressure groups and campaigners.
There’s a lot of Telegraph-speak in that first paragraph, as the Tory-supporting newspaper was working desperately to make governmental perversion of justice acceptable. What this actually means is that Cameron wants to make it impossible for organisations that are capable of mounting legal opposition to unreasonable Conservative/Coalition policies ever to do so.
The only people able to seek judicial reviews of government policy would be individuals who are directly affected – and the government is hoping that these mostly poor people would be unable to afford the cost, thanks to changes in Legal Aid that mean it could not be claimed for…
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