Poor pay offer set to start major courts row

Poor pay offer set to start major courts row

Staff in managerial and legal posts within magistrates’ courts across England and Wales are being balloted on a one-day strike after negotiations to provide an inflation proof pay offer reached deadlock.

The move reflects the anger felt by staff represented by Prospect at the failure to properly fund the start-up costs of a new government agency, Her Majesty’s Courts Service (HMCS), which merged the magistrates’, crown and county courts in April this year.

Despite assurances from the Department of Constitutional Affairs, HMCS’s sponsoring government department, that no staff would suffer a detriment on their transfer to the civil service, a below inflation pay increase of just 2.2% would amount to a real term cut in pay for Prospect members.

Prospect’s ballot of members in HMCS is an indication of the resentment felt at all levels of the agency, coming at the same time as the majority of other staff are also being balloted on strike action by their union, the Public and Commercial Services union.

Both unions are asking their members to vote for a one-day strike and action short of a strike.

Prospect National Secretary Alan Leighton said: "It is disgraceful that staff are expected to pay the price for the creation of HMCS. They are not prepared to accept a real terms pay cut as a welcome present for joining the civil service and will campaign for a fair settlement with their colleagues in PCS."

Prospect represents over 110 court members in roles such as justices’ clerks, assistant justices’ clerks, senior legal advisors and bench legal managers. The move is the first time justices’ clerks have ever been balloted on industrial action. The result of the ballot is due on 9 December.