More than 8,000 workers in Colombia’s judicial branch will go on strike next week due to heavy congestion within the system, Colombian media reported on Thursday.
Colombia’s national judicial workers union (ASONAL) will strike on May 20 to protest the government’s decision to terminate a decongestion program in the judicial offices 19 months ahead of schedule.
According to ASONAL President Victor Emilio Hernandez, the point of the strike is “to make known the existence of the closing of the decongestion courts on May 30 and with this, the government is defaulting on its commitments to having these courts working until December of 2015.”
As a result of the closing of the decongestion offices, more than 400,000 case proceedings would be delayed or moved within Colombia’s already chaotic judicial system.
According to an ASONAL statement featured in El Tiempo, “The judicial decongestion program has been fruitful for the users of justice, and we will not carry on more social harm, such as congestion in the judicial offices again.”
Hernandez lamented the lack of resources of judicial workers saying, “From year to year, the government seeks to establish decongestion programs […] when the problem of congestion should be a state policy that aims to plant sufficient staff.”
The ASONAL president also noted that an increase of more than 40% of the existing courts and personnel would be required to handle the congestion.
This is not the first time Asonal has staged massive strikes.
In October of 2012, a strike for an increased budget and fairer wages was called, with more than 60,000 judicial officers participating.
During that strike, over 100,000 court cases came to a complete standstill while the government filed to make the strikes illegal.
The judicial union also went on strike in September 2008 for higher salaries and wages.
The announcement of the latest work stoppage comes as the national teachers union enters its third day of strike activities. Farmers throughout the country have also been engaged in organized protests since late April.