UK: Criminal Barristers to go on All-Out Strike
On Sun., criminal barristers in England and Wales voted overwhelmingly in favor of going on an indefinite strike beginning Sept. 5. The development comes amid ongoing clashes between the lawyers and the UK government over working conditions and pay.
- On Sun., criminal barristers in England and Wales voted overwhelmingly in favor of going on an indefinite strike beginning Sept. 5. The development comes amid ongoing clashes between the lawyers and the UK government over working conditions and pay.
- Of 2,273 votes cast on the ballot, 79.5% supported industrial action - a strong rejection of the government's proposed 15% pay raise that falls 10% short of the 25% bump in salary requested by the Criminal Bar Association (CBA).
- Although average earnings in the sector can top up to £64k per year, junior criminal barristers make an average of £12.2k in their first three years of full-time practice. Last year, 40% of junior barristers left practice after their first twelve months.
- Lawyers arguing that a 25% rise in pay is justified point to their early career status as self-employed. According to criminal barrister Jennifer Devans-Tamakloe, there's no reimbursement for expenses such as travel to and from court, and barristers aren't paid for extensive preparatory work outside of court.
- The strike is set to exacerbate a backlog of around 60k cases in the UK. The CBA argues that the proposed 15% raise in pay should apply while barristers clear the backlog, but authorities argue that a "fundamental change" would be needed to implement the increase - worth £7k per year - to these cases.
- The strike also comes amid a period of spiraling inflation in the UK. Rail staff, teachers, and civil servants are all either set to begin industrial action or considering it. Pay is currently lagging behind a four-decade high inflation rate in sectors across Britain.
Sources: Al Jazeera, Newsbud, Guardian, BBC News, and News.
- Right narrative, as provided by Daily Mail. The CBA is ignoring a generous pay raise while employees in other sectors - also hit hard by the pandemic and inflation - struggle on with rising living costs. With the government's offer, the average annual pay of criminal barristers will increase to over £80k - the CBA must accept the deal and return to representing the clients they've left stranded in the court system.
- Left narrative, as provided by iNews. There's a reason almost 80% of CBA members supported an indefinite strike. Many lawyers have been working for less than minimum wage for years and it's time the government proposed an appropriate offer. The thousands of backlogged cases aren't the fault of the CBA, they're thanks to the government's continued inaction and underfunding of the justice system.