4 – 7 April 2019, Anadia, Portugal: Congress of the Portuguese Union SFJ

Vivien Whyte participated to the Congress of Portuguese Member Organisation Sindicato dos Funcionários Judiciais (SFJ) on 4 and 5 April 2019 with the Secretary of State for Justice, the Mayor of the City and of representatives from the President and Prosecutor General of the Supreme Court. Many court officials attended the event, as well as several other professional organisations.

In his speech during the opening ceremony, the President of the EUR talked about the social movement carried on by Portuguese colleagues for several months to demand a better statute, decent retirement, better careers and promotions. He renewed the support from European court clerks and Rechtspfleger in this just and necessary fight. He stressed that court clerks, keepers of the form, are also keepers of liberty and that political decision makers had to recognize their essential role in the functioning of judicial systems.

All speakers insisted on the court clerk’s role and the importance of teamwork. However, the most important speech was probably the one by the Secretary of State for Justice who stated that it was important that court clerks receive new judicial competences, inter alia to resolve the difficulties in the functioning of the courts. She explained that her ministry had examined the question in details and had found no technical obstacle to transfer tasks from the judges to the court clerks. She believes that the professional regulations on court clerks will evolve in that direction, with a university degree as a condition for recruitment. Nevertheless, she pointed out the lack of political will to finance such a reform. She apologized for the lack of success of the negotiations and called for an evolution to happen after the next general elections.

The Congress denounced the “bad faith with which the Government has organised the negotiation process aimed at reviewing the court clerks’ professional regulations, leading to its unilateral end as a reprisal against the fair fight (recognized by everyone, including judicial contacts) carried out in 2018, which culminated in the national plenary session that took place at the official opening of the judicial year.

They decided to “answer in an adequate and efficient manner to (that) posture of the Government” by measures that will be defined by the Secretariat.

President Whyte wishes to congratulate SFJ President Fernando Jorge for the remarkable work accomplished during his term that will expire at the end of the year. A pillar of union action in Portugal for many years, he also brought the fight for workers’ rights to a European level as an indefectible support to the EUR, who expresses their gratitude.

SFJ President Fernando Jorge.

Vivien Whyte thanks the SFJ for their very warm welcome and great hospitality. He rejoices that the EUR can provide further support to our Portuguese colleagues on the occasion of our own Congress, which will take place in Lisbon from 27 November to 1 December 2019.

Vivien Whyte