Court staff in strike action

STAFF at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court in Ipswich were due to strike today over a pay dispute.About a dozen Ipswich staff were to take part in the first ever one-day national strike of magistrates' court staff across England and Wales.

STAFF at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court in Ipswich were due to strike today over a pay dispute.

About a dozen Ipswich staff were to take part in the first ever one-day national strike of magistrates' court staff across England and Wales.

About 30 magistrates' court staff were expected to strike in Suffolk as a whole, which also has magistrates' courts in Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft.

The strike, organised by the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and professionals' union Prospect, could be followed by work-to-rule, where people do not do work over and above their contracts, or even further strike action in the New Year.


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A PCS spokesman said: “The dispute over pay has been going on for the past six months. The whole package amounts to a 3.7 per cent increase for magistrates' court staff.

“But part of that is a cost of living allowance, which is only 2.2pc. It's that part of the pay award that we are disputing.”

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Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, added: “Members have grown increasingly angry over a pay deal that should have been settled months ago and now feel compelled to take this historic step of strike action.

In April, magistrates' court staff were transferred to the civil service, creating a new agency to run magistrates', crown and county courts, called Her Majesty's Court Service (HMCS).

The union claims that there was a failure to properly fund the start-up costs of establishing HMCS.

But a spokeswoman for Her Majesty's Court Service said: “The pay award is worth, overall, 3.7 per cent. We believe that's fair. It's above the threshold set for 2005.

“This is nothing to do with start-up costs of HMCS - they have been offered something that is above public sector pay awards generally.

“About a third of all court staff are not union members. We are expecting those people to provide some sort of service in each court.

“We are planning to still provide our essential services - custody cases, urgent family cases and the out-of-hours service, at all courts across England and Wales. But we can't be sure.”

Do you agree with the strike action? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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