Court officials call all-out strike for next Monday

Union will escalate struggle if government “maintains arrogance”

SOJ, the Union of Judicial Officers, has called an all-day strike for next Monday, September 4, (the day courts ostensibly return from the traditional August ‘break’), admitting that it will escalate the struggle “if the government maintains the arrogance it has shown”.

In a statement released today, the union recalls that it has been on strike since the beginning of January this year and criticises the “deafening silence” and “inaction” of the Minister of Justice in relation to the “just demands” of the court officials, including the inclusion of the procedural recovery supplement in their salaries, backdated to January 2021 and paid over 14 months; the opening up of promotions and new posts; and a specific retirement scheme for these professionals.

The strike scheduled for next Monday follows that of the country’s union of Judicial Staff Union (SFJ), scheduled for this Friday (September 1).

According to the SFJ’s strike notice, the strike will take place between 9am and 5pm (those being normal court hours) and no minimum services will be called (in other words, court schedules will almost certainly be brought to a standstill).

The SFJ is immediately demanding a call for tenders for all vacant posts and categories and the inclusion of the procedural recovery supplement in salaries, also backdated to January 2021 and paid in 14 months, as, it reminds, “was provided for in two State budgets”.

In the context of collective bargaining, SFJ wants a revision of the professional statute that dignifies the (judicial staff) career, but also a special retirement scheme and a multi-year candidacy system to fill vacant posts.

Friday’s strike was announced by SFJ president António Marçal in July, at the end of an Extraordinary General Assembly in Viseu, where he also announced that on the Monday following Friday’s general strike, strikes will begin in an innovative format, alternating or rotating.

“It’s a strike that starts at the time for which the magistrate’s diary has due dates and ends, in the morning, at 12.30pm,” and then, “in the afternoon, it also starts at the time of the due date and ends at 5pm,” he explained.

According to António Marçal, these strikes “will not have to be the same throughout the country, but will take place until 31 December 2023, in parallel with more classic strikes of total or partial paralysis by nuclei or districts,” accompanied by gatherings of court officials.

Regarding the revision of the professional statute, the Minister of Justice, Catarina Sarmento e Castro, at a parliamentary hearing at the end of June, promised to present a formal proposal within “the next few weeks” – something that has not yet happened, concludes Lusa.

It needs to be added that chronic delays in Portugal’s legal system are endemic, with many cases dragging on for years, unheard and not even scheduled for hearing.

Source material: LUSA