Solicitors and probation workers in England and Wales walked out on a two-day strike on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Workers in the probation officers’ union Napo struck over Tory plans to outsource 70 percent of the service.
And criminal defence solicitors also walked out for 48 hours from midday on Monday in protest against cuts to legal aid. It is the third strike by solicitors this year over Tory justice minister Chris Grayling’s devastating attacks on legal aid.
The first strike was a half-day walkout in January followed by the first ever all-day strike by lawyers in Britain last month. Barristers had previously joined solicitors for the action.
But their Criminal Bar Association (CBA) did not participate in the strike this week after Grayling offered concessions.
Many barristers were angry and disappointed.
Those who had broken ranks with the CBA came to support a protest outside the Ministry of Justice on Tuesday. The CBA has cut a deal that will benefit a few but severely undermine junior barristers and continue the decimation of legal aid firms.
As a result solicitors’ firms have now agreed to no longer take Crown Court work to demonstrate the potential impact of Tory cuts. The two-day strike this week is the fifth time probation workers have struck over plans to privatise the service. The walkout is an escalation on a 24-hour strike last November.
Under the proposals private firms such as G4S and Serco could take over the running of probation services.
Probation workers held joint rallies with solicitors in Rotherham, Sheffield, Barnsley and Doncaster.
Sharon Price is convenor of South Yorkshire Napo branch (pc). She said, “These private firms will go for peoples’ pay and conditions. It’ll be payment by result and the people we work with will face a rotten service.
“These changes will mean a lot of bureaucracy and box ticking. It will be a nightmare for us and our clients.”