SPANISH unions vowed yesterday to fight austerity moves in the courts as the Socialist government said it would introduce a contentious cut in public sector wages through a royal decree, bypassing parliament.

The UGT union, which was already planning a public sector strike on June 8, said it would contest the legality of such wage cuts at the centre of plans for budget reductions of 15 billion euros announced last week. “We are going to challenge the royal decree on wage cuts,” Julio Lacuerda, a representative from Spain's second largest union UGT, told a news conference after meeting government officials to receive details of the pay reductions. “This is a complete mockery of our legal right to bargain,” added Enrique Foussoul of Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), Spain's largest union.
A government spokesman said the cuts, including an average 5 percent wage decrease this year for public sector workers, would be passed by royal decree at a cabinet meeting, thereby going straight into Spain's statute books.

The cuts would take effect in pay cheques from June.