Court staff begin nine-day walkout over case management system

Court staff begin nine-day walkout over case management system
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Ben Chapman

By Ben Chapman

Published: 22/10/2022

- 07:32

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 10:34

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said its members working as legal advisers and court associates will stage a nine-day walkout starting on Saturday

Sixty-eight courts across England and Wales 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 on Saturday.

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.

A case management system has proven to be controversial.
A case management system has proven to be controversial.
Stefan Rousseau

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 Luton Magistrates’ Court, Manchester Magistrates’ Court and Peterborough Magistrates’ Court from 8.30am on Monday.

Among the others are magistrates’ courts in Wimbledon, Lavender Hill, Willesden and Uxbridge in London, as well as ones in Sussex, Cardiff, Somerset, the Midlands 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 are: Aberystwyth Justice Centre; Aldershot Justice Centre, Barrow-In-Furness Magistrates’ Court; Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court; Beverley Magistrates’ Court and Family Court; Bolton Magistrates’ Court; Brighton Magistrates’ Court, Bristol Magistrates’ Court and Tribunals Hearing Centre; Caernarfon Justice Centre; Cambridge Magistrates’ Court; Cardiff Magistrates’ Court; Carlisle Magistrates’ Court; Crawley Magistrates’ Court; Crewe (South Cheshire) Magistrates’ Court; Derby Magistrates’ Court; Durham County Court and Family Court; Ealing Magistrates’ Court, Gateshead Law Courts; Grimsby Magistrates’ Court and Family Court; Guildford Magistrates’ Court and Family Court; Hastings Magistrates’ Court; Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court; Hereford Justice Centre; High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court and Family Court; Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court; Lavender Hill Magistrates’ Court; Lincoln Magistrates’ Court; Liverpool and Knowsley Magistrates’ Court; Liverpool Civil and Family Court; Llanelli Magistrates’ Court; Luton and South Bedfordshire Magistrates’ Court; Manchester Magistrates’ Court; Mansfield Magistrates’ and County Court; Merthyr Tydfil Combined Court Centre; Mid and South East Northumberland Law Courts; Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court and Family Court; Mold Justice Centre; Newcastle Upon Tyne Crown Court and Magistrates’ Court; Newport (South Wales) Magistrates’ Court; Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court; North Somerset Magistrates’ Court; North Staffordshire Justice Centre; North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court; Nottingham Magistrates Court; Oxford Magistrates’ Court; Peterborough Magistrates’ Court; Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court; Reading Magistrates’ Court and Family Court; Redditch Magistrates’ Court; Sefton Magistrates’ Court; South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court; St Albans Magistrates’ Court; Staines Magistrates’ Court and Family Court; Stockport Magistrates’ Court; Sunderland County, Family, Magistrates’ and Tribunals Hearings; Swindon Magistrates’ Court; Tameside Magistrates’ Court; Teesside Magistrates’ Court; Telford Magistrates’ Court; Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court; Warrington Magistrates’ Court; West Hampshire Magistrates’ Court; Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court; Willesden Magistrates’ Court; Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court; Worcester Justice Centre; Worthing Magistrates’ Court; and Yeovil County, Family and Magistrates’ Court.

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