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The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has  condemned yet more potential court closures. The plan to close 9 more courts is a further hammer blow to access to justice and will mean staff and the public travelling further, in more difficult circumstances at greater cost.

The government has opened a 10-week consultation on its plans which will displace more than 130 staff and propose the closure of:

Banbury county court and magistrates’ court

Blackfriars Crown Court

Cambridge Magistrates’ Court

Chorley Magistrates’ Court

Fleetwood Magistrates’ Court

Maidenhead Magistrates’ Court

Northallerton Magistrates’ Court

Wandsworth County Court.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This announcement is yet another hammer blow to local justice from a Tory government with a sorry record of closing over 38% of courts and tribunals since 2010.

“We do not accept that closing any of these courts would improve the quality of the service the Ministry of Justice provides. We do not accept that the changes that HM Court and Tribunals Service is making and envisage for the future, are about improving the justice system or access to justice.

The new Justice Secretary should order a review into the court closure programme and halt any further closures pending full discussions with the unions”

PCS believes the watchwords of efficiency and flexibility used by the department are euphemisms for cuts to a public service which is already creaking under unrelenting pressure and chronic underfunding and is largely reliant on the goodwill and professionalism of HMCTS staff. Indeed HMCTS concedes it is doing this to ‘release funding.’ We believe this is the primary reason for the proposals.

PCS believe HMCTS has been intending to close these courts for some time and that work has been moved or proposed for removal to facilitate closure. Indeed this is referred to in the consultation in relation to Blackfriars Crown Court.

PCS believe these closures will result in delays to cases being heard. It is even more alarming that HMCTS has also launched a 10-week public consultation on the main strategic principles when considering future closures.

These proposals come at a time when staff morale has been damaged by previous closures, job cuts, pay restraint, and an attendance management process that PCS maintain is discriminatory and privatisation threats.

POA warns Government after Carillion goes into voluntary liquidation

Leaders of the POA had warned the Government and HMPPS Senior Management that the contracting out of services and maintenance in prisons was a recipe for disaster, but their concerns were ignored.

Following the collapse of Carillion leaving thousands of workers worldwide with an uncertain future and more tax payers money goes down the drain, Leaders of the POA will demand prison contracts are brought back in house.

Steve Gillan General Secretary of the POA said;

“We need to know the contingency plans to keep our prisons operational. During the time Carillion had this contract the level of essential maintenance and work that is outstanding has spiraled out of control. This has resulted in loss of prison accommodation and in-humane conditions in our prisons”.

The contracting out of work commissioned by HMPPS was supposed to realise over 100 million in savings for the tax payer, but due diligence was not undertaken and the Public Accounts Committee exposed that no savings would be made.

Steve Gillan said;

“When these contracts were let the POA and other unions within the MoJ raised serious concerns and objections.

Prison maintenance and repairs are essential in keeping prisons safe and secure.

The Government and the Employer have introduced change after change in an attempt to save money and today we face another real crisis due to poor management and privatisation”.

 

RMT demands immediate protection and guarantees for workers caught in Carillion collapse

‎RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:

"This is disastrous news for the workforce and disastrous news for transport and public services in Britain and RMT has been warning since Thursday night that we thought the collapse of the company was imminent.

"The blame for this lies squarely with the Government who are obsessed with outsourcing key works to these high risk, private enterprises.

"RMT will be demanding urgent meetings with Network Rail and the train companies today with the objective of protecting our members’ jobs and pensions.

"The infrastructure and support works must be immediately taken in house with the workforce protected.

"Chris Grayling and his Tory colleagues must be forced to take responsibility for this crisis which is wholly of their making."

PCS calls for Carillion contracts to be taken In House

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) which represents Carillion workers in various Government Departments today (15) called upon the Government to immediately take those contracts back ‘In House’ and guarantee all the workers their full employment rights. Carillion had contracts in areas like the Prison Service, the Defence Department, the British Museum and the Met Police.

PCS is writing to the Cabinet Office seeking urgent talks and guarantees for its Carillion members

Mark Serwotka PCS General Secretary said

“Protecting the jobs and pensions of our members is our first priority.

Carillion is yet another example of the failings of privatisation – once again profit has been put before vital public services and workers. We have seen privateers walk away from failing contracts on our railways and the taxpayer having to pick up the mess they leave behind.

We call on the government to issue a moratorium on all future and planned outsourcing, to bring all Carillion’s public sector contracts and workers back ‘in house’ and to urgently consider a public sector model to take on delivery of these services.”

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) says its London members are deeply upset and angry to learn that the number of people killed in fires has risen sharply in the capital, according to the latest figures released by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) this week.

In 2016, the latest year which figures have been made available, there were 46 deaths in London caused by fire, up from 33 the previous year – a 40% increase. The figures, published in the LFBs Fire Facts briefing, do not include the 71 victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Paul Embery, FBU executive council member for London, said: “We are deeply concerned at the correlation between the rise in deaths following the deepest cuts to the brigade in its history, which were pushed through by the former mayor. This disturbing increase has happened at a time when over a thousand frontline firefighter posts have been ditched, 10 fire stations closed, and specialist rescue equipment and fire engines have been removed from service.

“In recent years firefighters have had to work with one hand tied behind their backs. Station closures and fewer fire engines mean it is taking longer for fire crews to make it to the incident scene. This means they arrive after the fire has become more intense, when the possibility of rescuing victims becomes fainter and the work far more dangerous. Critically, overworked firefighters are now struggling to provide the preventative fire safety work which has historically driven down the number of fatal fires.

“Firefighters welcome mayor Sadiq Khan’s commitment not to make any further frontline cuts to the brigade. However we need to look at adopting a strategy that gives the brigade the funding it desperately needs in order to drive down fatal fires.”

THE FIREFIGHTERS' DILEMMA

TUCG: MARK SERWOTKA ON THE FIGHT AGAINST AUSTERITY

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BOOK: COST OF LIVING CRISIS

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Foreword by Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary

 

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