Like all workers, we witness unfair firing practices. We live with gender pay gaps. We see that Black people and people of colour are disproportionately restricted to the lowest-paid positions. We aren’t consulted when our workplaces are restructured, we see bullying ignored by those in power or perpetuated by them, Some of us aren’t paid enough, or are overworked.
Trade union membership is not a weapon of last resort. Unionising provides a structure to voice issues, hear how others are affected, and decide on action. It provides an avenue for collective communication with management.
Together, we can negotiate change and challenge issues without any single individual having to put their job or working relationships at risk. Trade union recognition also guarantees our right to be consulted on major workplace developments. Formal processes like these can help to ease tensions.
And when tensions do rise, support is on hand. LSWU offers legal advice, employment law training, and representation at disciplinary proceedings from day one. Our power in numbers can — and, when necessary, will — be demonstrated via democratically-mandated industrial action.
Beyond these universal benefits to trade union membership, there are specific reasons why legal sector workers must organise. We have seen the effects of government cuts to legal aid, court closures and outsourcing.
Many of us earn below Living Wage, with no job security, doing work which was once reserved for the legally qualified. Squeezed on all sides, we can no longer guarantee access to justice for those who depend on us. But when we are attached to firms, chambers or organisations barely managing to stay afloat, putting pressure on individual employers is not enough.
Our formation will strengthen the hand of owners, partners and representational bodies in disputes with the MoJ by demonstrating that workforces are behind them. Still more importantly, it will also mean that we have our own seat at the negotiating table, to ensure that future settlements prioritise all workers in our sector, and particularly the most vulnerable.
Our aims are simple:
1. That every one of us be properly compensated, fairly treated, and secure in their job
2. That universal access to justice be restored
“This initiative is long overdue. I was involved in an earlier effort in the 1970s which was far less ambitious and did not survive. This has the advantage of a far wider constituency of workers who are constantly at risk of exploitation and marginalisation despite their critical role. As Shelley put it, strength in numbers!”
Michael Mansfield QC
“I support the unionisation of all workers in all sectors. The inequalities in income and in terms and conditions in the legal world are notorious and I therefore support the initiative to form Legal Sector Workers United under the banner of United Voices of the World. I wish them luck.”
John Hendy QC
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We exist to unify and organise our sector, securing justice for all.