‘Significant escalation’ – Christmas strikes planned over courts IT system dispute
Legal advisers and court associates vote to take industrial action over controversial Common Platform
HM Courts and Tribunals Service officials will take further strike action this Christmas in a dispute over rollout of the Common Platform IT system.
Civil service union PCS has served the HM Courts and Tribunals Service notice of further strike action from 24 December to 4 January, after more legal advisers and court associates voted to strike. This is the latest in a series of walkouts across the country's courts this month and earlier this year.
Officials in 76 courts have now voted for strike action, after a third tranche of PCS members voted overwhelmingly in favour. Some 97% of ballot members in the latest vote supported walkouts, which means legal advisers and court associates in five extra courts have now joined the strikes. PCS called this a “significant escalation” of the dispute.
Common Platform is a new case-management platform which allows parties including the judiciary, solicitors and barristers, the Crown Prosecution Service and court staff to access information.
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But PCS says there has been an “alarming increase in reports of stress and anxiety and long working” since the system’s introduction. The union has called for HMCTS to carry out an organisational risk assessment of Common Platform and a stress survey of all users of the system.
PCS says no cases should be inputted to Common Platform until this is done, and is also calling no further job losses related to the introduction of the platform.
HMCTS has previously said: “Common Platform is fundamental to modernising the court system – replacing out-of-date systems and freeing up court staff so we can better deliver justice for all. We will continue to work closely with all staff to support them through the transition. We want to thank all the court staff, judges and others who have contributed to its design and implementation so far.”
The courts service paused the rollout of Common Platform in September in some areas in an attempt to resolve the dispute but ended the suspension in early October, with the union responding with more strike action. Walkouts have already taken place on 2-5 and 9-12 December and more have been announced for 16-19 December.
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