Barristers on the brink, as criminal lawyers become the latest profession to strike.
Criminal Barristers across England and Wales are set to strike from the 5th of September indefinitely. After decades of cuts in legal aid, the impact of the pandemic, the strain of over 59,000 backlogged cases in the crown courts and the selling off courts, the criminal bar becomes the next legal profession to strike.
Jennifer Devans-Tamakloe, who recently qualified as a criminal barrister only three months ago, is set to strike. Speaking to Sky News, Devans-Tamakloe justifies industrial actions due to the fact that ‘300 [barristers] left last year … there will soon be no barristers left who will represent victims and defendants’. Junior barristers start out earning less than £13,000- below that of minimum wage; less than that of legal secretaries and paralegals.
On average, this means for victims there is a 15 month wait from the charging of an offence, to the end of a trial. Victims Commissioner of England and Wales Vera Baird, says this dispute must be ended to ensure that victims' needs are centred. Unless a resolution is found victims will be left in limbo and the criminal justice system will grind to a halt.
Former Justice secretary Dominic Raab accused the criminal bar of holding ‘justice to ransom’ that would only increase the backlog in the courts and bring heartbreak to thousands of victims. Originally, barristers were promised a 15% increase in pay, yet the Criminal Bar Assocation (CBA) rejected this offer from the government as too low and are demanding a 25% pay increase above levels of current inflation.
Whilst opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer accused the government of doing ‘absolutely nothing’ to try and end strike action and criticised its record in government and policy of austerity that saw a reduction in public spending, mainly in the justice system, particularly legal aid suffers.
Of the 2,273 votes cast, 1,808 members (79.5%) voted for strike action. This comes after dockers voted to strike, rail workers on strike and teachers and nurses promising to strike in the future. A return to the 1970’s seems closer than ever.
Share This Post On
Leave a comment
You need to login to leave a comment. Log-in