Supreme Court Chief Justice Hatta Ali has threatened to sanction any judges who follow through with plans to go on strike.
But Hatta said the Supreme Court and the Indonesian Judges Association (Ikahi) had not yet decided on what sanctions they would impose.
“We’ll see later, but I’m sure the judges have been informed about this and they will not do it, especially given the seriousness of Ikahi in handling the problem and fighting for it,” Hatta said in Jakarta on Wednesday.
He said striking was an inappropriate way for judges to voice their demands as it would disadvantage those seeking justice.
“As the chairman of Ikahi, I keep saying to leave the welfare matter to Ikahi because Ikahi is an organization fighting [for judges’ demands]. All of the judges’ interests should be channeled through Ikahi, so there is no need to do something disadvantaging,” Hatta said.
Both the Supreme Court and Ikahi have tried to push for an increase in judges’ salaries and to improve their welfare before the judges made their demands, he said.
“Now, we will further intensify it because a joint team made of members from the Supreme Court, State Administrative Reform Ministry, Finance Ministry and Judicial Commission [KY] have met twice,” Hatta said.
The joint team is expected to finalize a review on the proper wage judges should be paid in the next two to three months, Hatta added.
Recently, 28 magistrates representing judges across Indonesia asked the Supreme Court and KY to help them voice demands for improved welfare. They threatened to strike unless they received a pay raise that was four years overdue.
Bambang Soesatyo, a member of House of Representatives Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, said earlier this month that judges’ welfare needed to be prioritized for the good of the wider judicial system.
“If the government is truly committed to upholding the rule of law, then the judges’ grievances must be addressed,” he said.
“What they’ve managed to reveal is a fundamental weakness in the law enforcement fabric of this country,” the Golkar Party politician continued.
“No matter how high a public official’s rank may be, if their standard of living is below the average, there will naturally be a push for improvement.”
Bambang claimed this was forcing many judges to moonlight in other jobs or take bribes.
Despite the importance of their positions, Indonesian judges earn meager salaries, lower than those of civil servants. Judges’ salaries, including benefits, range from Rp 4 million to Rp 5 million ($440 to $550) a month, according to data from the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.
Civil servants of a similar rank or grade as judges receive slightly higher monthly salaries and benefits, totaling between Rp 4.5 million and Rp 6 million.