The Woolworths and Election Blues Connection.

By Andrew Knorpel on 14 May 2015

What’s the connection between the electorate, ex-MPs, ex-Woolworths employees and trade unions?  It’s that they’ve all got the blues in one shape or form.

Turning to the electorate first, only a hermit would not yet know that the Conservatives have (against all pre-election poll predictions) won a majority and formed a clear blue government.

Moving on to ex-MPs and aside from the fact that they have lost their own job, I heard on the radio this week from an ex-MP that one of the worst things about not being re-elected is the fact that they have to take the “heartbreaking” step of making their administrative staff redundant.  To assist with costs such as staff termination payments, lease termination costs and furniture removal, ex-MPs are entitled to a winding up allowance of up to £57,000 (based on location of constituency), together with a resettlement allowance of a month’s salary for each year of service, capped at 6 months or £33,500 (Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority).

As for some 4,400 ex-Woolworths employees, they’re not happy as the ECJ has recently decided that they aren’t entitled to a protective award for failure to consult on their collective redundancies.   Following on from the Advocate-General’s opinion in this case (reported in a previous bulletin), the ECJ has decided that it is not necessary for all “establishments” to be aggregated for the purpose of the 20-employee threshold in the collective redundancies legislation. Therefore, where some 30,000 redundancies were made in a number of stores across the UK, it was up to the employment tribunal to decide whether each store constituted a separate establishment (which it had done).  The case now returns to the UK for the Court of Appeal to decide whether this was a legitimate decision by the original tribunal and, if so, where fewer than 20 employees were employed at some of those stores, then the collective redundancies legislation would not apply to them and they would not be entitled to a protective award of up 90 days’ pay for a failure to consult them.

Finally, the new Business Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed that the Conservative party’s manifesto commitment to review the law on strikes would be included in the Queen’s Speech.  He said “We’ve said there will be a minimum threshold in terms of turnout of 50% of those entitled to vote, we’ve also said that when it comes to essential public services at least 40% of people need to vote for strike action”.  He also confirmed that they would look to remove the current ban on the use of agency staff during a strike.


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