The PCS union is balloting members in 12 courts over what it claims is HM Courts and Tribunals Service management’s “failure to act to address serious and significant health and safety concerns”.
A statutory postal ballot of members at the following courts – asking them if they would be prepared to strike over these workplace safety concerns - has started today (15 February) and runs until noon on 5 March:
- Birmingham Crown Court
- Cardiff Crown Court
- Highbury Magistrates' Court
- Isleworth Crown Court
- Leeds Magistrates' Court
- Leicester Law Courts
- Liverpool Law Courts
- Manchester Crown Court, Crown Square
- Manchester Crown Court, Minshull Street
- Snaresbrook Crown Court
- Southwark Crown Court
- Wolverhampton Combined Court.
The PCS said it had not yet had a commitment from HMCTS to resolve the issues the union had outlined. It has called for:
- The immediate closure of all courts and tribunals in England, Wales and Scotland to provide an immediate circuit break on the transmission of the virus in the community and the HMCTS estate.
- A reversion to the delivery of critical business priorities identified in the HMCTS business continuity plan with prioritisation of those activities that can be delivered remotely using digital working and virtual hearings.
- An agreement on exceptional and completely voluntary working arrangements for attendance at workplaces to deliver business critical work that cannot be deferred and cannot be delivered remotely.
- Provision of sufficient additional IT equipment to maximise opportunities for remote working for all HMCTS employees.
- A suspension of recovery planning including plans to increase capacity until there is an agreed timetable for the safe resumption of recovery work. Safe resumption of work will include: a. access to regular testing b. low transmission rates within the community c. decreased pressure on the NHS.
- A suspension of the reform programme to take account of impacts created by the pandemic and agreement in advance of recommencement.
- Introduction of increased safety measures including a trade union side-agreed risk assessment.
- An equality impact assessment on HMCTS Covid-19 arrangements.
The PCS has also launched an online consultative ballot for all HMCTS members whose workplace is not one of the 12 courts mentioned above. This ballot runs from 22 February to noon on 15 March.