In the Media

Courts to grind to halt as union votes for strike

PUBLISHED February 2, 2007

Thousands of court cases are set to be disrupted after the Public Sector and Commercial Services Union announced this week that its members would strike on 31 January unless the government makes ?serious moves? on pay and conditions.

Members of the union were balloted this month, with 64% voting for strike action on 31 January.

The union said its members had handed it a mandate for ?discontinuous ongoing action?, which would likely mean an ?imaginative and ongoing campaign to get the employer to negotiate seriously?.

The union counts designated caseworkers in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as well as court staff among its members.

The CPS said in a statement that managers would attempt to take over some work, and it is working with the Courts
Service and other agencies ?to ensure that priority cases such as those where the defendant is in custody do proceed?.

Mark Serwotka, the union?s general secretary, said the strike vote ?demonstrates that civil and public servants are angry at the way they?ve been treated?. He added that a quarter of his members are paid less than ?15,000 a year, while 54% earn less than ?20,000 a year. Civil servants have been asked to accept pay rises of 2% or less, he claimed.

But a senior spokesman for the Department for Constitutional Affairs countered that the overall value of the pay offer for 2006 is 3.5%, with the 2% offer only applying to workers at the top of their pay scales. ?We don?t believe strikes or work to rule help anyone ? not union members or customers,? he told the Gazette.

Other government departments affected include Revenue &