Ghana: Courts shutdown in countrywide judicial service strike

By Dasmani Laary in Accra
Posted on Tuesday, 24 May 2016 10:56

Ghana’s legal workers are protesting poor conditions of service and government’s failure to honour its promises to implement an agreed salary plan.

The workers want government to implement a deal over new salaries – where payments are consolidated – which was approved last year and scheduled to be effected in June 2015.

The strike is still in force until we receive something concrete from government

“After a year of failed assurances, the employees will not return to work until further notice,” head of the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (JUSAG), Alex Nartey told journalists at a press briefing announcing the decision to withdraw their services nationwide.

Last month, the association’s leaders met with a government commission to look into their concerns but they failed to reach an agreement, resulting in JUSAG members downing their tools last Friday.

Government officials and the National Labour Commission (NLC) on Monday said the strike was an “illegal, lawless and unfair attempt” to put fear into the ruling party in an election year.

But, JUSAG general secretary, Derik Annang responded swiftly, saying the decision to withdraw their services was “legal, fulfilling the requirements of the Labour Act, Section 159 and 160 that spell out the procedure and conditions under which a union can embark on a strike”.

“The strike is still in force until we receive something concrete from government,” he stressed, referring to a previous strike over unpaid allowances and salaries that was called-off after the government promised to pay but did not do so.

JUSAG leaders directed members to withdraw their services with effect from Friday, May 20, until the government implemented the Judicial Council’s approved consolidated salaries.

Checks by The Africa Report on Friday and Monday showed that litigants, prison officials and prosecutors were left stranded at various court premises including Ghana’s new court complex and the Supreme Court, which were virtually deserted.

“I came over to the court this morning only to see the place locked and deserted,” a litigant, who appeared frustrated, told The Africa Report on Monday.

The Judicial Council issued a statement on Monday asking the workers to suspend their strike and return to work while efforts were underway to address their grievances.

JUSAG leaders are due to meet Employment and Labour Relations minister, Haruna Iddresu, later on Tuesday in an effort to break the impasse.

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