A welcome message from UNISON`s General Secretary, Dave Prentis. “I am delighted to tell you that UNISON Legal Services has been successful in its challenge to Employment Tribunal Fees. Today, the Supreme Court, the UK’S highest court, ruled that the Government acted unlawfully when it introduced fees to bring claims in the Employment Tribunals in England, Scotland and Wales. Since 2013, workers have had to pay as much as £1,200 plus to have claims for sex discrimination or unfair dismissal heard at Tribunal. I am so very proud that it is our union which has successfully challenged this great injustice. As the Supreme Court has said Employment Tribunals play a vital role in enforcing employment rights by employees and workers including the low paid. The Court found that UNISON’s evidence showed that the fall in claims when fees came in was ‘so sharp, so substantial and so sustained’ that fees could not reasonably be afforded by those on low to middle incomes. It also held that fees particularly deterred claims of low value which as we know are generally brought by the most vulnerable workers. This historic judgement makes heavy criticism of the Government’s actions. It found that the system of fees introduced in 2013 infringed constitutional rights. The Court said that citizens’ right of access to the courts which is guaranteed by Magna Carta was effectively prevented by the Fees Order which introduced fees in Employment Tribunals. The level at which the fees had been set contravened ‘elementary economics and plain common sense’. This decision in our union’s case will benefit all working people. Our next steps are to call for the Government to quash the rules relating to fees, reimburse all fees paid since 2013, immediately remove all references to fees on ET claim forms and government literature, websites and advice; and pay UNISON’s costs in full. I would like to thank all members of UNISON Legal Services who have worked tirelessly on this case but particular mention should be made of Adam Creme, Shantha David, Ben Patrick, Kate Osborne and Grant Haycock and to Bronwyn McKenna, AGS, who has worked with me on this.” Link to decision: UNISON v The Lord Chancellor  UKSC 2015/0233: https://www.supremecourt.uk/news/latest-judgments.html
Tameside UNISON Branch Secretary, Paul Taylor, says,
“This news is long overdue, but very welcome all the same. The reason the Tories implemented tribunal fees in the first place was to erode the rights of the citizen by putting an obstacle in the way of ordinary workers accessing justice by making it virtually impossible, on the grounds of cost, for the majority of claimants to be able to put their case before an ET.
This makes it easier for rogue employers to unfairly dismiss and discriminate in the knowledge that in all probability they can do so with little prospect of being challenged. In the real world, and following a potentially unfair dismissal for example, where were ex-employees supposed to find over £1200 in application fees when they still have to pay mortgages/rent as well as put food on the table? The answer to that is that they cannot, hence the severe drop in ET applications as noted by the Supreme Court.
The Tories wanted to undermine justice for the most vulnerable, but now, on the back of this judgement, ordinary citizens should not be denied the right to have their case heard impartially without the burden of an unaffordable up-front fee.
It’s important that independent bodies such as trade unions are capable of, and continue to be capable of, testing injustices through judicial processes in order to protect member’s rights at work and beyond.
I would ask all members reading this email to share this news with your work colleagues and if they have not already join UNISON that you encourage them to do so.”
Join Tameside`s biggest and best trade union UNISON at:
Tel: 0161 308 2452
Or by calling into the Branch Office at: 29 Booth St, Ashton-U-Lyne, Lancashire, OL6 7LB