ADMINISTRATION workers employed throughout the country by the ministry of Justice have been on an indefinite work to rule since 4th February, with Union members in the Balearics spearheading street protests and highly publicised “sit-ins” resulting in forced removals.

With negotiations reaching “showdown” stage, some fifty judicial administration staff have locked themselves in the head offices of the Balearic Judiciary in Via Alemania in Palma, in support of their comrades who were at that very moment in Madrid trying to resolve the conflict. A spokesman for the judicial sector of the Workers Commission (CCOO) said that the “lock-in” had begun at about 9.30am yesterday and would continue until the end of the negotiating period in Madrid.

With more judicial power being decentralised from central government to the regions, the transfer of personnel to cope with the restructured legal system is proving to impose what the workers describe as an “unfair burden”. Their recently assumed new responsibilities and adaptation to new methods of operation forms the basis of their salary claim. The strikers also want their pay and working conditions to be brought in line with other public sector employees. Salary differences, say the Unions, can be as great as 2'400 euros. They also claim that the ministry for Justice's official response to the strikers' demands has so far been insufficient. Meanwhile, a backlog of court cases and judicial settlements is piling up across the country.

Further confrontation was expected however, as central government had given orders that security forces were to be used to evict the striking workers.