If you’re a lawyer, then you will know that the second
strike day of individual action is on 7th March 2014. This is a quick one, prompted by the following twitter exchange –
What’s the issue?
I’m not someone that is particularly attuned to the importance of language, but it, er, strikes me that we should be saying what we mean on this one. We are not having a training day, we are not unilaterally deciding not to work that day, we are having a strike. Let’s just be open about what we’re doing.
There’s a bit more to it than just that. I am deliberately choosing not to go to Court, despite having something in my diary. I am on one view ‘letting my client down’. I don’t think I am letting them down, quite the opposite in fact, but I am undoubtedly exercising a choice.
Despite everything that the Government (and the Courts) throw at is, I believe that it is important to be professional (but not subservient). If I’m booked in to go to Court I would never turn up to go on a ‘training day’ – if I didn’t go, then it would have to be a very good reason like a personal crisis. A strike is different – it’s not just a very good reason to not go, it’s a collective decision in pursuit of a defined aim which is a world apart from me going off on a frolic of my own and not turning up to Court, however politely I may have trailed it with them in advance.
Does it matter?
Well, we’re lawyers, so words are supposed to. I’ve never been particularly impressed by the Competition Law argument that says it is unlawful to go on strike. In any event, it seems pretty clear that if collective action is anti-competitive then it won’t be saved by saying it’s a set of individual decisions (which, if you think about it, makes sense – the law is not that stupid). For some reason, when there was the failed attempt in 2007 over Carter, it really, really annoyed me when people were pretending it wasn’t a strike.
Leaving aside the competition law point, there is the question of disciplinary action. One defence to that would be that this was part of action protected under Art 11 as was suggested by a civil silk on twitter over Christmas. The more this is a co-ordinated action, the happier I would be that it was covered by Art 11 (have a look at Kudrevicius v Lithuania ECHR 345 (2013) for a recent use of Art 11).
Obviously I’m not an expert on competition law or employment law, so usual caveats apply and I’m happy to stand corrected. All out on 7th March certainly, but let’s be honest – call it what it is – a strike.