Judges go on strike for the first time ever in Spain
Judges from around 30 provinces including Madrid, Seville or Barcelona have been asked to support a national strike organized by the Asociación Francisco de Vitoria and the Foro Judicial Independiente.
The first ever strike by Spanish judges demanding more human and material resources has been arranged to coincide with a symbolic protest organized two judicial associations which do not support the strike – by the Asociación Profesional de la Magistratura and Jueces para la Democracia. It also coincides with a 12 day strike by civil servants working for the Ministry of Justice in Madrid.
The lack of precedents for the strike has meant that it has been left up to judges to decide what minimum service must be provided after the General Council for Judicial Power refused to establish a minimum service given that it regards the strike as illegal.
Therefore the National Strike Committee consisting of members from the two associations which have called for the strike today has decided that the 24 hour strike will not affect cases of violence against women, cases involving children, cases related to the internment of those suffering from mental illness and other urgent cases under civil law.
Judges have approved the strikes in the following provinces: Cádiz, Seville, Malaga, Almeria, Huelva, Murcia, Alicante, Valencia, Castellon, Girona, Tarragona, Zamora, Teruel, Cuenca, Ciudad Real, Pontevedra, A Coruña, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca and Ceuta amongst others.
The unprecedented strike has caused divisions amongst the judiciary and it has also provoked a controversial debate on the right of judges to strike which was raised by the Minister of Justice, Bermejo, to the indignation of the judges who argue that just because the Spanish constitution does not contemplate the right of judges to strike does not mean that it is illegal to do so.
Attempts by the government to halt the strike have been unsuccessful, largely because the positions of the judges and the Ministery of Justice differ profoundly. While the judges claim that the government has refused to negotiate, the government claims that the judges cannot impose their wishes and that many of their demands have been taken into account – the most important of these being the creation of a new Judicial Office which is currently under review in parliament.
Both the government and judicial organizations agree that the strike will not only be to the detriment of ordinary citizens but that it will also damage the public image of the judiciary.