MADRID – Judges and prosecutors in Spain have announced that they will organise an indefinite strike from May 16. They are angry about the lack of response to their salary demands.
Their pay has been frozen for over a decade. The professional associations of the judiciary and prosecutors are determined to reach an agreement following the announced pressure measures. They will not allow their responsible attitude to again serve as an excuse for the negligence of the Ministries of Justice and Finance.
The judges and prosecutors criticise the lack of concrete proposals during the preparatory meetings with the Ministry of Justice. They are very frustrated about this. Therefore, if their demands for equal pay are not met, they will quit their jobs.
Several trade unions support the strike. Some progressive associations are calling for the result of the meeting of the Mesa de Retribuciones to be held next week. However, the judges and prosecutors fear that, as happened earlier in March, the planned salary negotiations will be cancelled again.
They emphasise the need to improve the working conditions and remuneration of the judiciary and prosecutors. They see these factors as essential for an efficient legal system in the country.
The salaries of the judiciary and prosecutors have been frozen for more than a decade. Other public employees, however, have seen these cuts offset and gradually got their salaries back to pre-cut levels. In the case of the judiciary, however, it has never been compensated.
The earlier strike caused chaos in the legal system
Another challenge for the judges and prosecutors is that they cannot join unions. Other workers in the justice sector can and have started organising strikes. In January, the legal officials of the Administración de Justicia already started an indefinite strike that lasted two months and caused chaos in the Spanish justice system. The activity of the courts was largely paralysed. As a result, more than 350,000 lawsuits and hearings were postponed, the processing of nearly half a million claims stalled and €1.28 billion in consignment funds were frozen.
Second indefinite strike
On Monday, officials began the second indefinite strike facing Spanish justice this year. So far, these have been partial daily strikes from 10.00 am to 1.00 pm. They demand a salary increase and the suspension of a law that imposes new terms of employment without prior negotiation. They also want a redefinition of the functions of public service officials in the judicial administration.
Tens of thousands of lawsuits cancelled
Because hearings cannot take place without officials, the first day of the strike alone has led to the cancellation of 700,000 legal actions nationwide, including “tens of thousands of lawsuits.” Legal sources acknowledge that the success of the strike by Administración de Justicia legal officials contributed to the ongoing strike action.