NEWS

Wage tribunal under fire

The government yesterday expressed its intention to abolish a wage tribunal, which earlier this week ruled to boost judges’ salaries. According to sources, the government aims to push through reforms, to prevent judicial decisions from upsetting its fiscal policy, when it goes ahead with a constitutional revision. «The government will tackle the matter as it should, with an institutional initiative within the context of the revision of the constitution,» Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras said following talks with President Karolos Papoulias. According to Papaligouras, the president disagreed with Wednesday’s decision by the wage tribunal, according to which judges and other court officials can claim similar wages to other high-ranking civil servants. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos was more restrained, stressing that the government respected the judiciary’s decisions while adding that «(the government) follows a strict fiscal policy and has no desire for a series of (wage) increases.» He was echoed by Parliament Speaker Anna Psarouda-Benaki who noted that the matter «has serious legal and political ramifications and should be tackled with prudence.» Apart from the intended reforms, the government is also reportedly considering the creation of a constitutional court which would tackle, in good time, constitutional ambiguities before laws come into force. Meanwhile, the president of the courts’ judges union, Constantinos Kousoulis, sent a letter to Kathimerini recommending the establishment of an independent body that would regularly examine the salary and pension status of judges and subsequently submit proposals to the government and to Parliament. There are fears that Wednesday’s wage tribunal decision, approving a claim by an appeals court judge for 250,000 euros in unpaid wages, could pave the way for claims of back pay costing the state hundreds of millions of euros.