Burgon fires broadside at Tories
MISTREATED workers affected by unlawful employment tribunal fees must now be given the justice they deserve, Labour’s shadow justice secretary demanded yesterday.
Richard Burgon was speaking after the Supreme Court declared on Wednesday that the fees, introduced by the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition in 2013, are unlawful.
The court ordered the government to abolish the fees and pay back a total of £32 million to those hit by the unfair charge since 2013.
The fees, which ranged from £390 to £1,200, resulted in a 70 per cent reduction in workers’ applications to employment tribunals.
Mr Burgon has written to Justice Secretary David Lidington calling on the government to make sure that all those who were treated unfairly are now able to get access to justice.
He said the Ministry of Justice had been “operating unlawfully” for four years, and wrote: “Given this, it is now vital that you take urgent steps to address the injustice, unfairness and damage caused by your unlawful policy.”
The Leeds East MP made a list of demands to the ministry including that they must disclose how much of taxpayers’ cash had been wasted “defending their unjust policy,” and when the government would issue a full and unequivocal apology to working people and their families.
Mr Burgon also insisted that the government must confirm the deadline for reimbursing claimants and set up a scheme to deliver justice to those denied a tribunal hearing since 2013 because they could not pay the fees.
“It is just a shame that the government did not listen to the trade unions, the legal community, the Labour Party or myself,” he wrote.
“If the government had done so, it would not have found itself in the shameful position it now does — found to have unlawfully restricted access to justice for its own citizens.”
The Supreme Court ruled that the fees were unlawful earlier this week because the higher cost for discrimination cases was indirectly discriminatory towards women.
It added that claimants from low or middle income families would not be able to bring forward claims “without sacrificing ordinary and reasonable expenditure for substantial periods of time.”