Magistrates court workers vote to strike over digital system
Members of the union representing Magistrates’ court workers today voted in favour of plans to strike over complaints about the digitalization of England and Wales’ court systems.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) are calling on the government to reconsider its plans to digitalise the courts through the launch of its Common Platform.
The Common Platform system is a digital case management system that was first introduced in 2020 with a view to consolidating court data on a single system.
The launch of the Common Platform came as a key part of the Ministry of Justice’s £1bn efforts to digitalise the UK’s courts.
The Common Platform allows all parties, including court staff, solicitors, barristers, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and members of the judiciary to access case information.
Critics have argued the launch of the Common Platform has been fraught with problems that have hindered the court systems and worsened court workers’ working conditions.
The PCS union claims the Common Platform has increased workloads and negatively impacted court workers work-life balances.
The strike ballot of 180 PCS members saw 93 per cent of those who voted vote in favour of strike action.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Our members are the people who pick up the pieces when Common Platform fails, and they’ve had enough.”
“Either HMCTS management fixes the problems, or they face significant, targeted and sustained industrial action.”
A HM Courts and Tribunals Service spokesperson said: “This is a disappointing outcome as we have been working with staff and unions on the rollout of the Common Platform since September 2020, and it has already dealt with over 158,000 criminal cases.
“The Common Platform is key to modernising the court system, making it more efficient so that victims can receive justice more swiftly.”