HC Deb 22 April 1980 vol 983 cc205-6
9. Mr. Michael Brown

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is his estimate of the likely value of compensation claims which may be made under the terms of the Employment Bill by trade unionists to their employers who are unreasonably excluded or expelled from membership of their union and who are dismissed by their employer as a result.

Mr. Mayhew

Such a claim would be on the ground of unfair dismissal. If it succeeds, the maximum compensation that can now be awarded is £16,090; but it is calculated by reference to the loss shown in each case to have resulted or to be likely to result from the dismissal.

Where pressure exerted by the union concerned induced the dismissal, the employer could join the union in the proceedings and the tribunal could order that the union contribute towards the compensation, up to 100 per cent.

Mr. Brown

Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that £16,000 can never compensate a man who has given loyal service to his firm and who has done nothing more than cross swords with his union? Does he agree that such a figure is totally insufficient to compensate a man who merely wishes to continue working and drawing a wage from his firm?

Mr. Mayhew

The basis for compensation for unfair dismissal is divided into a basic award, a compensation award and an additional award which is based on the loss that results from the action complained of. We shall keep the matter under review. In 1978, when the limits were £14,770, fewer than 3 per cent. of awards were in excess of £3,000 and the median award was £375.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Should not the Minister be more concerned about the people in the steel industry who were declared redundant before the strike began and who worked their notice during the strike? Is he aware that, even when their notice expired, they were refused unemployment benefit? Is that not a reprehensible way for the Department to behave?

Mr. Mayhew

The provisions for such cases were decided under a statue passed by the last Government.