JUSTICE

Disgruntled judicial sector moots January strike action

Legal workers on war footing over ministry's handling of labor conditions

Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón.
Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón. GORKA LEJARCEGI

Professional groups from across Spain's legal sector are to join in a public act of protest on Tuesday as a result of months of tension between members of the judiciary and Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón. A one-hour stoppage is to take place Wednesday by judges, prosecutors, lawyers and court secretaries to protest against changes to their working conditions introduced by Gallardón in October.

These reforms included the practical abolishment of substitute judges, with the extra workload to be taken on by full-time magistrates, and a reduction in days off. Legal associations view this as an act of war. "We consider him dead as an interlocutor; he is not worth talking to," one judges' association leader, José Luis González Armengol, said last month. Legal associations have asked for a meeting with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy over the conflict.

So far, Rajoy has not responded. It is extremely unlikely that he will remove Gallardón from his liaison duties but the judicial sector has threatened a strike - which would be only the second since the return to democracy - if their complaints go unheeded.

These include Justice Ministry reforms to legal taxes, evictions, tougher sentencing conditions and the requirement for people to pay to bring civil suits.

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