November 1, 2006
PGs for the vulnerable, not the opportunistic
A leading union is backing calls for a review of the personal grievance industry.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little said that some unscrupulous advocates were exploiting the law by pushing trumped-up cases in the hope of getting a quick pay-out to go away.
“Personal grievance provisions are a vital protection for workers against unfair and disgraceful behaviour by employers, and it is totally unacceptable that some ambulance chasers are abusing these provisions for their own gain,” he said.
The chairman of Parliament’s transport and industrial relations select committee, Mark Gosche, was this morning quoted as suggesting that the practice of advocates representing sacked workers for a percentage of a pay-out should be banned.
Mr Little said his union would support investigating such a proposal, and suggested the review be widened to include excluding highly paid managers from coverage by personal grievance provisions.
“The aim of the law is to protect the vulnerable, not to provide poorly performing executives with a way of wringing a golden handshake out of a company,” he said.
“It’s time the law got back to what it is supposed to do.”
Mr Little rejected suggests that banning no-fee-unless-you-win advocates would deny many poor people access to legal representation.
“That’s what unions are for,” he said. “Members with a genuine case against their employers get top-quality legal representation, and they don’t have to pay for it.”