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From The Socialist newspaper, 10 February 2021

Court workers to ballot in fight for safety

photo Stephen McKay/CC

photo Stephen McKay/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Dave Bartlett, Ministry of Justice (MOJ) pcs group executive (personal capacity)

A couple of months ago the chief executive of HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) put out on the internal web extracts from a poem about the NHS, which was meant to inspire us. It went: "These are the people who mop the floor, fill the jug, make the cast, and give us the jab, and these are the hands that feel your head".

If a poem was written about those who run HMCTS it might say: "These are the people who create the mess, fill the lists, make the change and pay us nothing, who make us shake our head"!

As there is no end in sight to the pandemic, workers in the courts, who are classed as essential workers, are fed up and stressed, continue to be paid peanuts, and are wondering whether this day is the one where our luck runs out and we pick up the virus.

Management says the workplace is safe. The facts say otherwise. In January alone, 533 Covid-related cases were reported, and that's on top of 1,500 Covid-related cases since last August, to say nothing of an increasing number of jurors and professionals being unfit for work.

Management says the 'recovery programme' - the HMCTS target to catch up on the backlog - is essential to business needs, but refuses to recognise reality. As Covid continues to wreak havoc in our communities, HMCTS needs to understand and accept that court buildings are not exempt from the pandemic. Indeed, the figures suggest we are a net contributor to outbreaks.

Footfall must be reduced in our buildings, which means reducing the number of court sittings to an absolute minimum to provide a circuit break on the virus transmission. We need to suspend the recovery plan, including increased capacity, until there is an agreed timetable for safe resumption, and there needs to be a voluntary agreement on workplace attendance to undertake work that cannot be done remotely.

As a result of management's refusal to recognise reality, PCS MOJ Group is now undertaking a consultative ballot of HMCTS workers to look at industrial action to protect the safety and health of our members.

The chief executive hoped that the poem would help us to forget about our problems, but in reality it's become a timely reminder that enough is enough.

I urge all members in HMCTS to vote 'yes' in the ballot and equip the union to make demands and win what is needed to protect all of us.

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In The Socialist 10 February 2021:


News

Tories admit market failure - we want our NHS back!

Question mark over AstraZeneca's vaccine to protect against new Covid variant

Big Energy piles on the misery

News in brief


Racism

Black Workers' Charter: A programme to fight racism


Grenfell

Grenfell: Are we any closer to justice?


TUSC

TUSC online conference: Preparing to build a working-class force for the local elections in May

Ex-Labour socialists preparing to stand for TUSC in Devon


Workplace news

Striking British Gas workers fighting to win

PCS: Vote for rank-and-file socialist Broad Left Network candidates

Hackney schools workers to strike

York couriers call on council for protection from "fear of dismissal"

Court workers to ballot in fight for safety

NSSN meeting: Fight together against the Tories and bosses' Covid offensive


International news

Myanmar coup - For a workers-led struggle for democracy and socialism!

Turkey: Bogaziçi university students protest appointment of government loyalist as rector


Campaigns and party news

Why I joined the Socialist Party - a nurse

Why I joined the Socialist Party - a student

London fire victims lobby Tory mayoral candidate

Why you should come to Socialist Students online conference


Readers' opinion

Covid and pregnancy

Book that inspired me: God's bits of wood

Starmer ditches Labour movement tradition for cheap trick

The Socialist Inbox


 

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