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NLC goes to court to compel JUSAG to return to work

The staff of the Judicial Service have been on strike since Friday. Haruna Iddrisu (R)
The staff of the Judicial Service have been on strike since Friday. Haruna Iddrisu (R)

The National Labour Commission (NLC) is planning to go to court to enforce its decision that enjoins the members of the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (JUSAG) to go back to work, while they continue their negotiations with the government over their labour dispute.

According to the Executive Secretary of NLC, Mr Charles Bawa Duah, the strike was a clear violation of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651) because JUSAG and the government had not exhausted the negotiation process and, therefore, there was no need for the association to embark on the strike.

Speaking to the press after a meeting of the Judicial Council in Accra yesterday, Mr Duah described the strike as illegal, unconstitutional and in bad faith.

“Parties are still in a process of negotiation and more so per the Labour Act, JUSAG should have notified the commission at least seven days before embarking on the action,” Mr Duah said.

Strike

JUSAG declared an indefinite strike last Friday, accusing the government of dragging its feet with regard to the implementation of its consolidated salaries as recommended by the Judicial Council.

At the press conference to declare the strike in Accra, JUSAG said the government had refused to fulfil its part of the bargain after it had appealed to JUSAG 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.

“In view of the failed assurances, the National Executive Council (NEC) of JUSAG hereby directs the withdrawal of services by all staff of the Judicial Service, effective Friday, May 20, 2016 until the government implements the Judicial Council’s approved consolidated salaries,” it stated.

Judicial Council

In view of the effect of the strike by JUSAG on justice delivery in the country, the Judicial Council met yesterday to deliberate on the matter and called on JUSAG to call off the strike.

In a statement issued at the end of the meeting, the council urged JUSAG to go back to work while negotiations continued to resolve the labour dispute.

It said the council was deeply concerned about the time being spent on negotiations to address JUSAG’s grievances.

“The council wishes to assure JUSAG that during the said meeting it met with the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations and impressed upon him the need to expedite the resolution of the matter,’’ the statement added.

The Judicial Council further stated that the strike had disrupted the work of the law courts throughout the country, but assured the public that it was doing everything possible to get the government to play its part in resolving the impasse and bring closure to the matter.

JUSAG reaction

Meanwhile, JUSAG has agreed to meet with the government today to help find a common ground in resolving the impasse.

The President of JUSAG, Mr Alex Nartey, disclosed this in an interview with the Daily Graphic.

According to him, the association had agreed to honour an invitation by the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, for the two sides to meet.

Approved salaries

According to the association, in 2012, the Judicial Council, after reviewing the conditions of service of staff of the Judicial Service, concluded in 2015 that the allowances and salaries of the staff should be consolidated.

It explained that the previous system where most of the allowances were paid on quarterly basis was not the best because the allowances were not paid on time.

After a painstaking period of consideration, it added,  the Judicial Council forwarded the approved salaries to the government for implementation in June 2015, but this delayed and the association issued an ultimatum on March 2, 2016, demanding the implementation of the approved salaries.

Their concerns were not met, leading to the declaration of a strike on April 1, 2016, which was later called off following assurances by the government.

Presidential committee

A presidential committee was set up by the President to address the concerns of the JUSAG members.

Although the Judicial Council was the appropriate body to meet the committee, the union said it agreed to meet the presidential committee and was asked to give it a week to resolve all issues.

“The Judicial Council and the association have fully satisfied the government with all necessary documents regarding the consolidated salaries,” it said

“The association did not hear anything from the government after the meeting. It gave the government up to May 18, 2016 to implement the Judicial Council’s recommendation, but nothing has come out of it so far,’’ it explained.

Source Graphic Online

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