After the strikes in public transport, among municipal employees and in the retail sector, hundreds of judges and prosecutors are also threatening to temporarily stop working. The workload is too high, there are major staff shortages and the number of threats is increasing.
Strikes in the judicial system are completely unique. “It is the first time we talk about this kind of action, I never thought that I would ever have to act in this way,” says Marc Fierstra, chairman of the Dutch Association for the Judiciary.
The association believes that Minister Franc Weerwind of Legal Protection should come up with concrete measures within two weeks, otherwise the strike plans will be continued. ‘We are faced with enormous staff shortages, as a result of which judges and public prosecutors structurally work overtime by an average of 30 to 40 percent per week. That is unsustainable’, says Fierstra.
The high workload has been a problem in the judiciary for many years, but it has now become very high, says Fierstra. ‘Due to retirements, we see the outflow increase and the inflow cannot keep up. At the same time, we are already training to the maximum, so a lot is happening. The water is now really on our lips’, says the chairman of the Dutch Association for the Judiciary.
In addition to the high workload and staff shortages, there is another factor that puts pressure on the work in the judiciary. Threats against public officials have become a “general problem,” Fierstra said. “Judges and officers are not immune to that.”
‘A large part of those threats come from undermining crime, but more and more other matters are also being discussed,’ says Fierstra. The chairman sees, for example, that judges are met and spoken to aggressively, or that they are approached at their home address. ‘That is very annoying and that is also a factor that makes the profession less attractive.’