Leeds Barristers' picket. Photo: Iain Dalton
Leeds Barristers' picket. Photo: Iain Dalton

Criminal barristers’ escalation

Criminal barristers have begun an indefinite strike, following weeks of intermittent action, in their campaign for a 25% increase in legal aid fees. Legal aid rates have been cut by nearly 40% in the last fifteen years and many junior

barristers are struggling. Socialist Party members supported protests around the country.

Clive Walder, Birmingham South Socialist Party

There was another well-attended protest by criminal barristers at Birmingham Crown Court on 6 September. They are now on all-out strike and believe that their action is becoming effective.

Chloe gave a graphic description of a broken legal system caused by chronic underfunding, and pointed to the lack of barristers to hear criminal cases, meaning that neither defendants nor victims get justice. 40% of junior barristers have left the profession in the last five years. They believe that their vocation is being cruelly exploited.

Another barrister thinking of leaving the profession wondered whether there will be a profession to actually resign from.

Our call for coordination of all the different strikes was well-received.

Firefighters prepare for a ballot

Firefighters and firefighter control staff are preparing for a ballot for strike action, following consultation in Fire Brigades Union (FBU) branches. 

While RPI inflation runs over 12%, firefighters have been offered a 2% pay ‘rise’ – in reality a huge pay cut.

The FBU reported that they aim for the ballot to be held in October.

Biggest set of strikes ever in further education

The University and College Union (UCU) has announced an unprecedented ten days of strike action in further education colleges.

Staff at 26 colleges in England will take ten days of strike action over pay, starting on 26 September, unless employers make a significant offer.

89.9% of UCU members voted to strike, in a ballot with an overall turnout of 57.9%.

UCU says that since 2009, pay in further education has fallen behind inflation by 35% and the pay gap between school and college teachers stands at around £9,000.

The dates of strike action are:

  • Week 1: Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 September
  • Week 2: Thursday 6 and Friday 7 October
  • Week 3: Monday 10 and Tuesday 11 October
  • Week 4: Tuesday 18 Wednesday, 19 and Thursday 20 October