Engineer wins worker's rights case against millionaire Lib Dem

 

In a case that could have huge implications for the so-called 'gig economy', plumber Gary Smith has won a high court case stating that despite being officially 'self employed', he was entitled to workers rights after suffering a heart attack in 2010.



After he requested that his working week be cut from five days to three, his branded van was taken away from him and he was dismissed. After winning at an employment tribunal, which agreed that Smith was "entitled to conclude" that he was an employee, it was taken to the Supreme Court.

The case was against Pimlico Plumbers, famous for being led by the blonde Thatcherite Charlie Mullins, who recently swung behind the Liberal Democrats. Mullins was unsurprisingly glum about no longer being able to treat employees as contractors, saying he was "disgusted by the approach taken to this case by the highest court in the United Kingdom".

However, workers throughout the country will probably be delighted. Bogus self employment has been on the rise since the recession, and is now thought to affect up to 1.1 million workers. After recent victories by the GMB against Uber, the tide is beginning to turn.

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said the case had exposed "how widely sham self-employment has spread". The TUC wants the government to act quickly to crack down on bogus self-employment, something they promised to do early last year, though reforms have not been forthcoming. They also want the burden of proof that a worker is self employed to be passed from the worker to the employer.

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