Access to justice cuts: Reaping what you sow
Probably the area where workers’ rights have been hardest hit by the current government is the ability to claim damages through the courts.
Since the election the government has removed the legal system that allowed workers to pursue claims and receive all their damages. Now they may have to pay up to 25% of their damages in costs.
They have also introduced charges for taking a claim to an Employment Tribunal and slashed legal aid.
It is therefore incredible that a Conservative MP is complaining that he has to pay £130,000 in legal fees after being acquitted of criminal charges. Before his arrest, Nigel Evans made statements about the need to cut legal aid and admitted he would probably have voted for the last round of cuts in 2011 had he not been Deputy Speaker at the time.
Of course it is wrong that an acquitted man should have to pay a penny. The difference between him and many others is that he had the money to pay for top legal counsel. Most people do not.
And it is also wrong that, as a result of the actions of him and his party, workers have to pay a proportion of their compensation in legal costs when they are injured at work through no fault of their own and workers who are sacked for being a safety rep have to pay for the privilege of taking their employer to court.
The Tories had absolutely no concern about the effect that their changes would have on injured workers, those seeking justice from their employers, or even those accused of a crime. It is only now, that one of their own has suffered that we hear the call for change.
Please forgive me if I do not shed a tear.