THE BLOG

Access To Workplace Justice At Threat

14/02/2017 14:40

If you were injured doing your job and could no longer work or faced ongoing medical problems you might, as thousands of people do each year, turn to legal experts to advise you of your rights.

Now such access to justice is under threat.

Ministers are currently proposing to raise the limit in the small claims court for all personal injury claims from £1,000 to £5,000. The Government says the measure will crack down on inflated whiplash claims by motorists, however, as the NASUWT has highlighted to the Ministry of Justice, an across-the-board rise in the limit will affect many other types of claim, including accidents at work.

The government's proposals will affect 1 million injured people every year - 95% of all personal injury claimants.

Under the plans, cases falling below the £5,000 limit would need to be heard in the small claims court where legal costs are not recoverable, meaning claimants would be liable for their own costs. This will seriously hamper the ability of non-unionised workers to get justice and for employers to be held to account.

The Government claims that the reforms are necessary to tackle the 'whiplash epidemic' and clamp down on fraudulent claims, however, these changes will affect anyone injured anywhere, not just behind the wheel.

It is the insurance giants who are set to benefit if these changes go ahead. It is estimated they stand to gain an additional £200 million a year as a result. The losers will be the public services we all rely on as the Government has stated the Treasury stands to lose £135million-money that will be siphoned from our already stretched schools and hospitals. So much for the Prime Minister's vow that 'the Government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours.' And, what do these proposals mean for Theresa May's promise that 'when we take the big calls, we'll think not of the powerful but you. When we pass new laws, we'll listen not to the mighty but to you'?

These plans are just the latest attack by the Government on workers' rights. Fees have been introduced for employment tribunals, resulting in a 70% fall in the number of workers taking cases to tribunal. Cuts have been made to compensation for workers who have been unfairly dismissed. Draconian anti trade union legislation has been passed. All of these measures undermine workers' rights and are designed to make it more difficult for ordinary working people to exercise their rights and get justice.

Redress for workplace injuries must not become yet another casualty of the clampdown on workplace rights-the NASUWT is supporting the Feeding Fat Cats campaign which aims to highlight and stop this threat to justice. Find out more at www.feedingfatcats.co.uk

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