The Falklands: a reader

On the 30th anniversary of the conflict, here is the best of the NS coverage past and present.

1. Learn from history and make peace now

In this week's New Statesman, Anthony Barnett discusses the ongoing significance that the Falklands conflict has for politics and power in the UK.

2. Why Britain is in the wrong over the Falklands

In a Staggers post, TJ Coles argues that the UK has no legal right to the islands and only defends them to exploit oil and gas reserves.

3. The islands of black gold

In a 2010 NS cover story, Peter Wilby asks: as UK companies drill for oil and Argentina mobilises support, are we moving towards another, deeper conflict?

4. Why the Falklands must remain British

The Labour MP Gerald Kaufman launches a fierce attack on the Obama administration for its neutral stance on the issue.

5. What if... Britain had lost the Falklands war

Dominic Sandbrook writes a counterfactual account of the conflict.

6. Rules of engagement

Andrew Roberts reviews Sir Lawrence Freedman's Official History of the Falklands Campaign.

7. Why Maggie was wrong

Richard Gott disputes Roberts' view that the Falklands war was impeccably handled.

8. Was Mrs Thatcher right?

William Gill, checking old rumours about the Falklands war, talks to an Argentinian ex-captain, with surprising and unsettling results.

 

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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How tribunal fees silenced low-paid workers: “it was more than I earned in a month”

The government was forced to scrap them after losing a Supreme Court case.

How much of a barrier were employment tribunal fees to low-paid workers? Ask Elaine Janes. “Bringing up six children, I didn’t have £20 spare. Every penny was spent on my children – £250 to me would have been a lot of money. My priorities would have been keeping a roof over my head.”

That fee – £250 – is what the government has been charging a woman who wants to challenge their employer, as Janes did, to pay them the same as men of a similar skills category. As for the £950 to pay for the actual hearing? “That’s probably more than I earned a month.”

Janes did go to a tribunal, but only because she was supported by Unison, her trade union. She has won her claim, although the final compensation is still being worked out. But it’s not just about the money. “It’s about justice, really,” she says. “I think everybody should be paid equally. I don’t see why a man who is doing the equivalent job to what I was doing should earn two to three times more than I was.” She believes that by setting a fee of £950, the government “wouldn’t have even begun to understand” how much it disempowered low-paid workers.

She has a point. The Taylor Review on working practices noted the sharp decline in tribunal cases after fees were introduced in 2013, and that the claimant could pay £1,200 upfront in fees, only to have their case dismissed on a technical point of their employment status. “We believe that this is unfair,” the report said. It added: "There can be no doubt that the introduction of fees has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of cases brought."

Now, the government has been forced to concede. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Unison’s argument that the government acted unlawfully in introducing the fees. The judges said fees were set so high, they had “a deterrent effect upon discrimination claims” and put off more genuine cases than the flimsy claims the government was trying to deter.

Shortly after the judgement, the Ministry of Justice said it would stop charging employment tribunal fees immediately and refund those who had paid. This bill could amount to £27m, according to Unison estimates. 

As for Janes, she hopes low-paid workers will feel more confident to challenge unfair work practices. “For people in the future it is good news,” she says. “It gives everybody the chance to make that claim.” 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.