last week’s Southern carried the story about Hawick workers not being able to share in the £68million payout due to the Woolworths store collapse. USDAW, the shopworkers’ union, won this award by taking the case to tribunal under a protective award claim.
The comments by Tory MSP John Lamont in this article are unbelievable, in that he and his party are attempting to align themselves with those who have received no payments by giving the impression that there is some sympathy with their unfortunate circumstances.
Mr Lamont then talks about appealing for a change in the law so that all workers are treated the same. He is quoted as saying: “It is incredibly disappointing that the workers in Hawick will receive no compensation as it stands. Simply because the store had fewer staff is no reason for them to be treated in this way and it is only fair that they, too, receive some sort of payout. We must now push to close this loophole so this pointless rule is abolished.”
In 1992 it became law that trade unions had the right to be consulted at least 12 weeks in advance of any redundancies involving more than 99 workers. This was the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act. This happened under John Major’s administration and was as a direct result of European Union directives that had been attempting to get Britain to adopt protections for workers under T.U.P.E. since 1981.
The Tories fought against this law being introduced as they did not want any payments to be claimed. They raised many objections and amendments over the next 10 years to delay its introduction and to prevent many rights being given to trade union members in the UK. They were eventually forced to accept the fairness in treatment for working people in Britain.
In my former role as a Transport and General Workers’ Union official, this law helped me win many thousands of pounds for workers in the Borders in similar circumstances. Those workers would have received nothing if the Tories had got their way.
So, to those Hawick workers from Woolworths, I will give a bit of sound advice – have a bit more faith in the ability of your union to deliver than that of any opportunistic politicians.
Mr Lamont saying that he will now push to see this loophole closed will be a wonder to behold. I, for one, cannot wait to see his full proposal to the Scottish Parliament and his letter to Mr Cameron in London saying that he wants an extension to the act that will benefit even more trade unionists.