Court staff in Wales begin nine-day walkout over case management system
Eight courts in Wales and up to sixty in England will be affected by staff launching a strike in a dispute over a controversial case management system.
The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said its members working as legal advisers and court associates will stage a nine-day walkout starting today.
The workers, who postponed last month’s planned strike after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, are locked in a row over the use of the so-called Common Platform system.
Their employer, His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS), has said the scheme is key to modernising the court system.
But the PCS says “teething problems” that staff were warned of when the scheme was introduced two years ago have persisted, forcing them to work longer hours and negatively impacting the justice system.
The union previously said 180 of its members were involved in the row, which will see industrial action take place from October 22-30.
Initially 55 courts were to be affected, but after strike action was postponed following the Queen’s death, staff in 13 more courts voted to take part too.
The PCS said there will be picket lines outside Cardiff Magistrates’ Court, along with others including Manchester, Peterborough, Wimbledon, Lavender Hill, Willesden and Uxbridge in London, as well as ones in Sussex, Somerset and Hampshire.
The union’s general secretary, Mark Serwotka, said: “Our members in courts feel a huge amount of resentment and resolve because their voices are being ignored by managers.
“We’ve asked managers to stop the roll-out of the scheme and they haven’t. They haven’t even paused for negotiations to take place. They talk a lot about feedback, but they’re not listening. They’re just ploughing on, regardless of the consequences.
“This is not a new scheme. When it was introduced two years ago, we were told there would be teething problems and that once it’s embedded it’ll get better.
“It hasn’t. Our members are working longer hours, it adversely impacts on their family lives and, importantly, on their ability to deliver justice.”
An HMCTS spokesperson said when the union’s ballot result first came in: “This is a disappointing outcome as we have been working with staff and unions on the rollout of the Common Platform since September 2020, and it has already dealt with over 158,000 criminal cases.”
They have been contacted for further comment.
According to the PCS, the courts affected by strike action in Wales are Aberystwyth Justice Centre, Caernarfon Justice Centre, Cardiff Magistrates’ Court, Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court, Llanelli Magistrates’ Court, Merthyr Tydfil Combined Court Centre, Mold Justice Centre and Newport Magistrates’ Court Court.
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The industrial action is in relation to the criminal justice management system. The management system introduced in relation to the family justice management system has been just as disastrous. Its been a complete shambles