EVERYONE who works for wages should, after the Supreme Court ruling against fees being levied to access employment tribunals, check in their purse or pocket to see what’s missing.
If you don’t find a trade union card there, something is certainly amiss because, without public service union Unison taking this matter through the courts, workers would be still be denied the right to justice.
Some unions, Unison among them, have shouldered the financial burden of up to £1,200 a case to present members’ grievances to an employment tribunal (ET).
Other organisations and non-unionised workers have been unable to afford this expenditure, which explains why the number of cases reaching an ET has plummeted by 70 per cent since the fees were introduced by the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition government in 2013.
The conservative coalition partners claimed that fees would serve to weed out frivolous claims, preventing the courts from being overwhelmed.
This was a smokescreen. The neoliberal parties knew that their intervention would enable bosses who played fast and loose with employment law to get away with their criminal behaviour because employees couldn’t afford to challenge them.
If anything, their blatant class bias served to encourage bosses to disregard their legal requirements, affecting low-paid workers, especially women and black and ethnic minorities, disproportionately.
The landmark Supreme Court judgement entails the repayment of £32 million to all plaintiffs, including non-trade unionists who have benefited from this case being brought by Unison and funded by its dues-paying membership.
Non-union members should see from this the basic reason for trade union membership — the power of the collective outweighs that of the individual.
Most people prefer not to consider themselves parasites, taking rewards created by others’ efforts, so, if there’s a card missing, apply for membership of a union today.
Unity really is strength. Solidarity is not just a word.
ENVIRONMENT Secretary Michael Gove must think we were all born yesterday if he expects his belated warning on the dangers associated with petrol and diesel cars to be taken seriously.
A fully paid-up member of the St Augustine school of prompt action — “Lord, make me chaste but not yet” — Gove recognises the problem but has kicked the solution into the long grass.
He appreciates the damage caused by petrol and diesel vehicles and talks vaguely of embracing “new technology,” but his Air Quality Plan tinkers when he should be acting decisively.
Setting 2040 as the date to end the sale of new diesel and petrol cars while floating ideas of retrofitting the most polluting diesel vehicles, changing road layouts and removing traffic calming measures amounts to dithering while air pollution contributes to 40,000 premature deaths every year.
There is little point accepting the scale of the problem without responding to the extent necessary to tackle it effectively.
Other countries appreciate the need to act imaginatively to tackle harmful emissions and move to carbon-neutral production.
They have already encouraged research into making batteries smaller and longer-lasting while providing car-charge points more widely and investing in renewable energy sources.
There is no coherent approach from this Tory government, which contradicted its words on reducing harmful emissions through last week’s actions in junking plans to extend electrification of the Midland Main Line, Great Western Main Line and in the Lake District.
Investment in a cleaner, reliable, safe, affordable and integrated public transport system must be a key part of any serious response to air pollution.