Stephen Hepburn MP: Scrapping tribunal fees a great victory

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

We’ll probably never know precisely how many South Tyneside workers were cheated since the Tories and their Liberal Democrat lackies illegally imposed a tax on justice.

The number of Employment Tribunal cases nationally plummeted 70% when the ConDem Government unlawfully introduced charges of up to £1,200 with another £1,600 on top to appeal a bad decision.

Workers robbed of wages under the Bad Bosses Charter or were kicked out of a job unfairly, or discriminated against just because their face didn’t fit, often didn’t have the money to fight a rogue employer.

I always wondered if that was the intention of the Tory-dominated regime when it introduced the exorbitantly high fees, abusing workers as servants who should never dare to question their lords and masters.

So I applaud the Unison trade union for its fantastic Supreme Court victory over this rotten Conservative Government, the highest judges in the land ruling Employment Tribunal charges were illegal with the Magna Carta cited on the side of the people against the illegitimate Tory rulers.

Refunding £27m wrongly grabbed from people seeking justice is only right but a decent Government would also compensate all those who were deterred from recovering wages dishonestly withheld.

This isn’t a decent Government so I’m not holding my breath.

Unison once again proved the value of trade union membership and we saw the smirk wiped off the faces of arrogant, overbearing Conservative Ministers who behave as if working people are there to be abused.

Back in April when in Parliament I tackled a Tory Justice Minister, make that a Tory In-justice Minister, about the unfairness of tribunal fees and the Government being “on the side of the rich, the powerful and the bad bosses” he dismissively sneered it was “a union campaign” and side-stepped a proper answer.

Well, the Tory Minister should be feeling particularly stupid now.

Yes, it was a union campaign. A successful union campaign. And the union was on the side of the people, the Tories the enemy of the people.

Ever since the Tories crawled back into power in 2010 they’ve continually launched attacks on employment rights, exposing the Tory blatant propaganda behind Theresa May’s “Party of the Workers” guff.

Everybody’s entitled to a decent day’s pay for a decent day’s work and respect at work.

So the Tories were wrong to double to two years how long you must be in a job before you’re protected from unjust behaviour just as they were wrong to impose Employment Tribunal fees.

Unison’s triumph is why Tories strive even now to shackle trade unions, undermining their finances and organisation.

Unions enable working people to secure justice, a collective voice giving vulnerable individuals strength.

I’m proud to be a trade union member and I’m proud to be the Labour MP for the Jarrow parliamentary constituency.

And I’ll be prouder still when we replace May and the inept Conservatives with a Labour Government led by Jeremy Corbyn committed to economic prosperity for all, fairness and decency.