Irene Quirante / SUR
Friday, 5 May 2023, 11:47
An ongoing strike by some workers in the justice system in Spain is causing increased havoc in local courts and delays to cases being heard.
Some 1,000 court hearings in Malaga province have so far had to be put on hold since the industrial action by civil servants started in mid April.
The staff involved, who help prepare cases for more senior officials, want a pay increase in line with their superiors who secured a settlement last month. As yet, there is no sign of a breakthrough in talks as the backlog of work continues to grow.
From Thursday this week, the striking workers moved from walk outs for part of the day to whole-day strikes nationwide.
"The latest round of talks with the justice ministry was such a disappointment that we have no other option but to escalate the strike with more severe action," said a local representative of one union in Malaga. Six days of all-out strikes have now been called nationally until 18 May.
Although there are no official statistics, the trade unions believe that the number of court hearings halted to date is close to 1,000 or more.
Representatives said that, with the partial strike action, staff have been able to show goodwill and reschedule hearings for a different time of the same day. But with the upcoming all-out strike days, this will not now be possible. Minimum, urgent services must still be provided however, such as when processing prisoners or for sexual violence cases.
The category of worker striking provides the complex back-office administration to prepare hearings. There are 1,800 in Malaga province alone.
At the end of March, the higher level of 'letrado' (legal counsel), who physically take part in hearings, were awarded a pay increase after two months of action. Their junior officials who support them now want a similar increase.
The same staff are also protesting over what they claim are changes in working conditions and are asking for a clarification of job descriptions.
Also ongoing in Spain are negotiations with judges and public prosecutors, the most senior positions in the court system, over demands for increased pay. Strike action has been called by these from 16 May. They say they need at least a 20 per cent rise to update their salaries after years of pay freezes.
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