Justice Under Threat From All Sides

4 Feb 2012

Workers are facing a government ‘onslaught’ on their ability to get justice after being abused at work, the TUC has warned. The union body says while chief executives get huge sums in compensation when they are sacked or resign after screwing up, workers are either going to be barred from taking a claim to an industrial tribunal or face prohibitive charges just to get a hearing.

Writing in the TUC’s Stronger Unions blog, TUC’s head of safety Hugh Robertson notes the attack on access to tribunals forms part of an injustice triple whammy, with personal injury and criminal injury compensation also in the government’s sights. Under proposals going through parliament at the moment, ‘as many as 25 per cent of injury claims will not be brought,’ writes Hugh Robertson. ‘Those that proceed might lose up to 25 per cent of damages for the success fee and further substantial reductions for required legal expense insurance.’ The government is also proposing to slash payments under the criminal injuries compensation scheme. ‘In a consultation document issued this week, the government says it wants to remove around 17,000 victims of violence crime every year from the scheme including those with injuries like a smashed hand or an injury to the knee that is serious enough to require surgery. In addition many of those who still qualify will find the compensation cut, so even people with minor brain damage face a cut in their payments,’ he warns.

According to the TUC safety chief: ‘It is not a coincidence that all these proposals are coming together. The government has been wound up about a non-existent compensation culture by insurance companies who are happy to take insurance premiums but have taken a series of court cases to try to stop them paying out when things go wrong, including several aimed at asbestos victims. The coalition government is also hell-bent on removing as many employment rights as it can, so expect more to come.’