Colombia’s judicial branch workers, who have been on strike for more than a month, are divided with some agreeing to a government deal and others rejecting the offer, according to local media sources Friday.
Although an agreement between the government and the judicial branch union (Asonal) was signed Wednesday, judicial workers from Bogota, Cali, Popayan, Bucaramanga and Cucuta have yet to return to work.
“We acted in good faith and signed a pact to be respected. We are the only ones here that have been serious,” claimed Colombia’s Justice Minister, Ruth Stella Correa.
Fernando Otalvaro, an Asonal representative claiming to be the union’s president, approved the government proposal. “He [Otalvaro] has the ability to represent the organization and he is the only one authorized to lift the strike,” said Correa Wednesday.
Conversely, a dissident union faction led by another self proclaimed “Asonal President” Nelson Cantillo, rejected the government’s proposal of a $672 million increase for judicial funding and better wages. Cantillo argued the deal did not fully meet the demands of strikers.
The judicial branch strike that started on October 11 has essentially shut down Colombia’s court system, halting over 121,000 hearings in the country and costing the state about $1 million per day.
The judicial branch union appears split with both Cantillo and Otalvaro claiming to be the true “President” and leader of Asonal.
Updates to follow.