Pressure mounts on JUSAG staff as litigants throng courts

Friday, 03 June 2016 06:39

Striking court workers in the country resumed work Thursday to an overwhelming workload arising out of their 10-day strike which grinded activities at the various courts to a halt.

In Accra, litigants whose cases could not be heard due to the strike, thronged the various courts in a bid to get new dates fixed for their cases while others queued to file fresh cases and other legal documents to support already filed ones.

The workers who are members of the Judicial Service Staff Association came under pressure Thursday as a result of the huge number of litigants all of who were desperate to have their cases come up in court for hearing.

The situation was even serious at the banking section of the courts where long queues of people seeking to pay their filing and other court fees had formed.

Kenneth Asase Asamoah who is a Clerk at the Supreme Court told 3News there was so much pressure on them.

‘‘I don’t think this strike meant well to the judicial system of the country. It has delayed a lot of work putting a lot of pressure on clients and us. We don’t wish this to happen again. We appeal to government to sort out the issue on the ground. It doesn’t speak well of us,” he said.

Frank Okyere, who has a case the High court urged the government to ensure the workers of the Judicial Service do not strike again to bring about this untold hardship on both litigants and court officials.

“I’m here to find my document which I have waited a week to find it because of the JUSSAG strike. A lot has gone on and it’s my expectation that they wouldn’t have the cause to go back,” he told 3News

Members of the Judicial Service on May 20 started an indefinite strike to compel government to implement its consolidated salaries as recommended by the Judicial Council.

JUSAG said the government had refused to fulfill its part of the bargain after it had appealed to its members to call off an earlier strike on April 1, 2016. Therefore, it resolved not to call off the strike again until its demands were met.

The action by the workers affected justice delivery as court proceedings grinded to a halt at the various courts in the country.

Suspension of strike

But the workers on Thursday called off the strike government gave approval for the Presidential Committee’s recommendation on their consolidated salaries to be implemented by 30th July.

Announcing their decision after meeting with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Judiciary, President of JUSAG, Alex Nartey, saed he was optimistic of a definite resolution to their demand.

“We have decided to call off the strike because a lot of consultations have gone on behind the scene for a while now and we have finally reached a roadmap to solve the issue so we have to call off the strike to allow the committee to work,” he said

Currently negotiations on the payment structure are ongoing between the National Executive Council of JUSAG, the Ministry of Finance, the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission and the Employment and Labour Ministry.

Minister for Employment and Labour, Haruna Iddrisu, said he was cautiously excited about the development and hopes the committee will work within the stipulated time frame.

‘‘We have some understanding with the government team led by the Deputy Minister of Finance Ato Forson. I believe they will work within the stipulated framework. I think that they have done which is appropriate, both legally and in terms of labour management. I look forward for a fruitful discussion. I’m having a cautious excitement praying that we all work to ensure this strike doesn’t repeat,” he said.

Touching on the court case filed by the National Labour Commission, the Minister advised the Commission to go easy on it for now, saying “The National Labour Commission was in court because … the JUSAG strike was illegal but ones they have called off the strike action, I think their action is mute”.

Background

In 2012, the judicial council and management of the judicial service agreed to improve on the salaries of staff of the courts, consequent to which the Council put together a document titled ‘‘consolidate salaries for JUSAG’’, which was presented to the presidency for approval.

The president in response set up a committee chaired by Dr. S.K.B. Asante who studied the document and subsequently recommended its implementation.

However, the government has since 2014 failed to implement these recommendations, something that triggered a declaration of strike by JUSAG in 2015.

By Sarah Parku|3FM 92.7|tv3network.com|Ghana