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Staff at 68 magistrates’ courts go out on strike over ‘unworkable’ computer system

STAFF at 68 magistrates’ courts across England and Wales have gone on strike over a computer system which they say is wrecking their working lives. 

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), including court legal advisers, say that the Common Platform computer system forced on them by HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) is “unworkable.” 

The nine-day strike, which began on Saturday, was due to have taken place sooner but was postponed after the death of Elizabeth Windsor. 

Pickets were in action at Luton, Manchester and Peterborough magistrates’ courts today.

Other magistrates’ courts hit by the strike are in Wimbledon, Lavender Hill, Willesden and Uxbridge — all in London — and in Sussex, Cardiff, Somerset, the Midlands and Hampshire.

PCS said that the new computer system had increased the time taken to carry out tasks, affected workers’ health and disrupted the running of the justice system. 

The union added that it had increased stress among workers, sometimes kept them working until midnight on recording court cases and affected their work-life balance. 

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We’ve been left with no choice but to call strike action. 

“Managers are ignoring the evidence in front of them — that Common Platform is simply unworkable. 

“It’s adversely affecting our members’ health and their ability to do their jobs and is detrimental to the delivery of justice. 

“HMCTS managers should listen to our members and stop the rollout immediately.” 

The union said that the introduction of the system had been delayed to allow negotiations to take place, but that HMCTS had then imposed it without any agreement being reached.

HMCS said that it was “disappointed” by the strike action and claimed that the scheme was key to modernising the court system.

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