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Courts to close this week as security staff strike

By John Hyde >>

(20 September 2023)

The court service is warning of closures across England and Wales in the next week as security staff take industrial action.

Almost 500 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union employed by outsourced contractor OCS will strike on 22, 25, 27 and 29 September.

The PCS union says the action over pay is likely to ‘severely impact’ the running of 149 courts across the country.

Details of which sites might close are yet to be finalised, but the HM Courts & Tribunals Service website states that Manchester Civil Justice Centre will be shut on all four days of the action. It is understood other courts will also close, despite HMCTS redeploying security officers where possible. An updated list of affected courts will be published on Friday, the first day of the strike. 

At the courts that do have to close, hearings are being relocated to other sites or heard remotely where appropriate.

An HMCTS spokesperson said: ‘We are working closely with our security provider OCS to minimise disruption and ensure the safety of all court users during industrial action between them and PSC union members.

‘While a number of our sites are closed, the majority of cases will be heard remotely or in nearby courts and people should continue to attend hearings as planned unless they are otherwise instructed by the court.’

The dispute is specifically with security workers rather than other HMCTS staff.

The PCS said its members were angry at being offered a salary just 38p above the National Living Wage – a move that takes them further away from the Real Living Wage than last year.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘Members are outraged by the disgraceful actions of OCS in tabling a derisory and insulting pay offer. Our members will not pay for a cost-of-living crisis not of their making.’

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)