Stephen Lawrence court staff sanctioned to work by union


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The Independent Online

Court staff working on the case of two men accused of murdering Stephen Lawrence were encouraged to work by pickets in the only case of sanctioned strike-breaking at a British trial, said union officials.

A group of around 20 pickets were in position outside the Central Criminal Court in London in support of ushers and other court staff who are paid as little as £14,000, the PCS union said.

Unions representing security staff, ushers, clerks and other administrative staff claimed that 60 per cent of ancillary staff had backed the call.

Brian Strutton, the national secretary of the GMB who is involved in negotiations and visited the picket, said: We are absolutely not interfering with the Lawrence trial. We don’t want our protest about pensions to affect the case.”

The trial of Gary Dobson and David Norris continues.

One of the pickets, Graham Marsh, 53, said his £14,000 salary as a security guard was already stretched even without extra pension contributions.

Mr Marsh, of Maldon Essex, who is employed by the Corporation of London, said that he already spends some £400 a month on travel on top of other expenses.

“We deal with the general public, we carry out searches and basically act as social workers when dealing with family members form both victims and defendants.

“These changes probably mean me losing a day’s pay a month.

Lois Austin, of the PCS union which represents court staff, said there had been a pay freeze for two years at the Ministry of Justice and low pay was “institutionalised” at the department, where thousands of jobs are also being cut.

“The impact has been huge. Our staff showed goodwill during the summer riots when they ran night courts and we think the government should show some goodwill in return.”