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Top court suspends Xmas bonus of Basque civil servants

Navarre assembly approves extra monthly payment

The Governing Council, at its last session this morning before the relay in the Executive
The Governing Council, at its last session this morning before the relay in the ExecutiveADRIÁN RUIZ DE HIERRO (EFE)

The Constitutional Court has ordered the Basque government to suspend the payment of an extra month’s salary in December to the some 70,000 public servants in the northern region after accepting a suit from the central government claiming that the regional administration had usurped its powers, judiciary sources said Monday.

The outgoing Basque government had done all of the paperwork to carry out the payment, including orders to banks to do so. More than 2,500 civil servants on Tuesday actually received payment in their accounts due to an “error” committed by two banks.

The Constitutional Court has up to five months to deliberate on whether to ratify or lift the suspension. The Basque government has 20 days to present its arguments to the court. A regional spokesman said the Basque administration plans to appeal the suspension ruling.

By means of a decree, the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had suspended payment of the so-called Christmas bonus to civil servants as part of its austerity drive. The Basque government based its decision to ignore Madrid on the Budget Law, which includes the bonus payment.

Navarre and Extremadura also turned a blind eye to the decree and are approving bringing forward the payment of an extra month’s salary due to be made effective in June 2013 to January of next year.

The Navarre parliament on Tuesday approved the extra payment, which was denominated a “personal complement for loss of spending power.”

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