Criminal lawyers in England and Wales have voted in favor of an escalation of the strike.
The Association of Criminal Lawyers, which represents lawyers who try and defend those accused of crime in England and Wales, said its members had backed a plan to strike “indefinitely” from Monday 5 of September
They join rail staff, teachers and civil servants in supporting or considering industrial action over the coming months, at a time when pay awards are lagging behind four-decade high inflation.
The ABC has said its members have suffered an average drop in income of 28% since 2006 – taking inflation into account – and has accused the government of refusing to negotiate “to find a fair solution”.
Criminal lawyers are due to receive a 15% fee rise from the end of September, meaning they will earn £7,000 more per year.
But there has been anger that the proposed pay rise will not take effect immediately and will only apply to new cases, not those already waiting to be dealt with by the courts.
ABC members have walked out on alternate weeks, but were voted on whether to escalate industrial action.
The 14-day poll closed at midnight on Sunday and the result was announced on Monday morning.
A total of 2,273 members voted with an overwhelming majority – around 80% – supporting an uninterrupted strike.
ABC deputy chair Kirsty Brimelow QC said it was an “action of last resort”.
“The remedy is an injection of money into the backlog of cases which is currently 60,000 cases, which lawyers are working on and which will only cost the government £1.1m a month,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“Currently, it’s costing a lot more for the courts to feel empty.”
Justice Minister Sarah Dines said the escalation of the strike was “totally unwarranted” given the pending rate hike.
“This is an irresponsible decision that will only cause more victims to face further delays and distress,” he said.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) previously said it had “repeatedly explained” to the CBA that retroactive pay would require a “fundamental change” in the way rates are paid, adding: “This reform would cost a disproportionate amount of money from taxpayers and would take longer to implement, meaning lawyers would have to wait longer for payment.”
According to Ministry of Justice figures, more than 6,000 court hearings have been disrupted as a result of the dispute over the conditions and fees set by the government for legal aid defense work.
Data released under freedom of information laws show that in the first 19 days of industrial action – between June 27 and August 5 – 6,235 court cases, including 1,415 trials, were interrupted.