Anger at charges for work tribunals

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Indy Politics

Ministers faced anger from unions and backbench MPs on Friday night over plans to charge workers for taking cases to employment tribunals.

Ministers faced anger from unions and backbench MPs on Friday night over plans to charge workers for taking cases to employment tribunals.

The payments are intended to stem the rapid increase in numbers of tribunal cases by pricing out trivial claims. Applicants could face an initial fee of about £60, followed by another of £200 if their case is heard.

Union leaders, already hostile to moves to attract private capital into the public services, said the charges would be a deterrent to legitimate cases.

John Edmonds, the general secretary of the GMB, said: "Access to industrial justice should be based on need rather than ability to pay. For many workers, a charge of possibly hundreds of pounds simply to exercise their rights will be too prohibitive."

Bill Morris, the general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union, said it was an attack on workers seeking justice and was "contrary to the principles of the Human Rights Act and the principle of free, fair and open access to justice".

Tony Lloyd, the chairman of Labour's trade union group of MPs and a former minister, said: "A tax on justice will deter genuine applicants and hit the poorest part of the workforce working in the worst industries."

But Alan Johnson, the Employment Relations minister, said: "Charging a modest amount would bring a faster and more customer-focused service and also raise funding for improvements in the tribunal and conciliation process. At least a quarter of all tribunal applications which come from those who are on benefits or in genuine need will be exempt from any charges."

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