Thursday, 22 June 2017

JUSAG strike threatens peaceful elections

The Judicial Service Association of Ghana (JUSAG) has declared a strike for the second time in 2016 over persisting remuneration issues. 

JUSAG says government has failed to implement a salary review as recommended by the Judicial Council.

Under the new review, the employees expect to see their allowances and salary consolidated into one salary. The workers had expected that this would take effect from June 2015.

But nearly a year later, the workers say they have grown dissatisfied with government’s feet-dragging over the salary.

JUSAG members play crucial roles in the delivery of justice.

They keep the keys of all court buildings and provide security at the court, among others.

They perform various administrative and court duties to assist the judge. These duties may include completing paperwork, liaising with parities, keeping a record of court proceedings, and taking verdicts or findings in hearings.

For example, the bench clerk will direct people where to stand, read the charges out in a criminal proceeding and administer the oath or affirmation to witnesses.

This means without them, judges cannot function.

It is worth noting that a backlog of more than 59,000 cases is pending at the various courts across the country.

According to the 2014/2015 annual report of the Judicial Service, a total of 25,795 cases are pending at the high courts, 11,816 are at the Circuit Courts and 22,795 at the District Courts.

New cases are also being filed every day.

The statistics, which have increased by now, is alarming considering the various reforms by the judiciary since 2004 aimed at ensuring speedy and expeditious disposal of civil cases in the courts.

The National Labour Commission (NLC) has described as illegal an ongoing strike by members of the Judicial Service Staff Association (JUSAG)

 Executive Secretary of NLC, Lawyer Charles Adongo Bawa Duah said the strike is illegal since JUSAG failed to give the NLC prior notice before embarking on the strike. 

Deputy Employment Minister, Baba Jamal says the strike by Judicial Service staff is an unfair attempt to put fear into a government that has an election to win. 

Employment and Labour Relations Minister Haruna Iddrissu also described the strike as illegal.

The position taken by these officials has the potential to prolong the strike.

If this strike drags on, it means the special courts set up to deal with election-related issues would be useless effort.

It must be noted that the litigants in the case of persons who used the National Health Insurance Scheme card to register as voters have given indication that they would want to go back to the Supreme Court to clarify its ruling as the Electoral Commission has decided not the expunge the names of affected persons from the voters’ register.

With barely five months to voting, the JUSAG strike threatens to delay the discharge of justice on matters that have material impact on the election process.

If the strike prolongs, it could negatively impact the November polls and endanger our nascent democracy.

The government should find a lasting solution to this stalemate now before it is too late.

 

Read 364 times Last modified on Monday, 23 May 2016 09:10