Union postpones courts strikes following Queen’s death

Week of industrial action was in protest at HMCTS’s Common Platform IT system

By Jim Dunton

12 Sep 2022

The civil service’s biggest union has called off a week of strike action protesting at issues with HM Courts and Tribunals Service’s unpopular Common Platform IT system.

Industrial action designed to highlight the need for dialogue with HMCTS management over Common Platform’s “negative impact on members’ health, safety and welfare” had been due to start on 10 September and continue to 18 September.

But PCS has announced that the action, which would have involved legal advisers and court associates, had been “postponed” following the death of the Queen last Thursday.

Common Platform allows parties including the judiciary, solicitors and barristers, the Crown Prosecution Service and court staff to access case information.

PCS said tests in three counties during a pause on national roll-out found tasks took longer, levels of stress among staff increased, and work-life balance was negatively impacted. 

Union members who are legal advisers and court associates voted 93% in favour of strike action in a recent ballot, where turnout was 61%.

Last year, PCS said stress and anxiety levels among officials had gone “through the roof” since the introduction of Common Platform began in September 2020.

It said the system had been beset with technical problems and delays that had slowed cases and added to backlogs.

Other planned industrial action – including that of Royal Mail staff who are members of the Communication Workers Union and railway staff at Network Rail and train-operating companies who are members of the RMT – has also been cancelled because of the period of national mourning.

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