A ballot next week of thousands of court and prison workers could herald a new round of industrial action over pay and spending cuts.

Some 15,000 members of trade union PCS will vote on Monday on what it described as 'continued attacks on their jobs and terms and conditions and for fair pay’.  

In a statement today, the union said: 'Workers in the UK’s courts and prisons are faced with mass job cuts arising from spending cuts, including the planned closure of almost 100 courts, the break-up of national bargaining in prisons and the possible privatisation of their jobs.

'At the same time pay remains low. Many staff earn a few pence an hour above the minimum wage with the Ministry of Justice being one of the lowest-paying employers across the civil service.’

PCS has also this week launched a high-profile campaign against privatisation of Land Registry, a proposal that prompted 3,000 of its members to go on strike when the plan was first mooted in 2014.

Members in the courts service have also taken strike action on a number of occasions in recent years. The ballot announced today, which runs until 11 May, asks members to vote in favour of a series of measures including: no compulsory redundancies/forced relocations; opposition to court and workplace closures; and a pay rise for every worker.

PCS industrial officer Tony Conway, said: 'Most reasonable people would think that staff working for the justice department would be employed on decent pay and not be placed at risk of redundancy or compulsory relocation. The fact is the cuts in resources and court closures have led to an intolerable burden.’

The union’s Justice Sector Group president, Alison Burtt, added: 'This ballot, in which all members are asked to vote yes, is about laying down a marker enabling PCS on behalf of its members to present staffs concerns with the department.

'Should the department not take these matters seriously we will have no alternative but to consider further action.’