Unite is calling on all members to take action against the government’s attempt to restrict access to justice for injured people.
Presented as being to do with whiplash, but really attacking the rights of anyone injured, anywhere – including at work – the government proposal will take away the right to free legal advice and fair compensation.
The Tories are using whiplash as a fig leaf to increase the small claims limit by 500%, from £1,000 to £5,000 for all personal injury claims, including workplace injuries.
This will undermine the funding of union legal services and make it impossible for the vast majority of injured workers to enforce their right to compensation – while lining the pockets of the superrich insurance company bosses who already get eyewatering pay packets.
The changes are in effect a huge cheque from injured workers and the taxpayer for the benefit of multimillionaires.
The government has been talking up scare stories of a “compensation culture” and “whiplash fraud”, when their own statistics in fact show that the number of work injury cases has dropped over the last 10 years, and they admit there is no suggestion of fraud by injured workers.
An investigation into the pay of the CEOs of the top three insurers found that their salaries, benefits, bonuses and dividends gave them earnings in 2015 ranging from £4.82m to £37.82m.
On the steps of Downing Street, when she was appointed prime minister, Theresa May said that her government would not work for the “privileged few” but instead for those who are “just about managing”. The current proposals make a mockery of such a statement and are a clearly designed attack on workers.
Insurers are raking it in and are happy to see premiums go up while it is hardworking people on low incomes who struggle to afford to drive a car to get to work in the morning and home to their families in the evening, who bear the brunt.
And it is the same people who are being told that their injury, worth just £5,000, is too small to need expert legal advice. Let them tell a bus driver, a construction worker or a cleaner, working long hours every week that £5,000 is insignificant and see how they react.
The audacity of those receiving eye-watering rewards packages is staggering – they lobby for changes to the small claims limit that will only mean more profit for them and leave people injured at work or on the roads out in the cold.
It is simply unacceptable.
Unite Legal Services, and the wider trade union movement, will fight these proposals but your help is needed.
Sign the online petition: petition.parliament.uk/petitions/173099, visit www.feedingfatcats.co.uk and follow @FeedingFatCats on Twitter to join the campaign and send an email to your local MP to oppose the changes.