On 7th March 2014 there was the second national strike by Legal Aid lawyers (and yes, it is a strike). After the first one – a half a day on 6th January, we found that actually we can strike without the world ending and therefore, in the face of the MoJ completely ignoring us, we’ve doing it again. There were more people than last year’s demo, I’d reckon about 1,200 (although my pupil, a police officer of 30 years, said 800, so it may be more like 1,600).
The most important question is ‘what next’? My concern has always been that by the time the plan was announced by Grayling, it is too late – at that point it is much, much harder for him to back down. The first cuts come in on 20th March this year. This introduces fee cuts of 8.75%. The average profit margin for a solicitors firm is 6.3% – you do the math(s). How will this end? ‘Badly’ is probably the best answer.
On Monday the CBAs ‘no returns’ policy comes in. If this has widespread support then it has the capability of bringing the Crown Court system to its knees.
Is it enough? I think I am not alone in saying that as the clock is ticking fast, we have to up the ante dramatically. My view would be to announce a 2 (or even 3) day strike starting on 19th March (a Wednesday) to coincide with the fee cuts then.
But I’m sure we will have time over the weekend to digest where we are and where we need to go. Until then, here are a few photos from today for anyone that wasn’t there. Apologies for the quality and the fact that they have been thrown together with no thought or organisation, much like the briefs we all receive on occasions.