Support staff in the Judiciary who downed their tools last week have resumed work this week for fear of reprisals after some members received letter summoning them to a disciplinary hearing.
Judiciary support staff comprising court marshals, clerks, messengers and cleaners staged a strike to demand that their conditions of services be approved by Parliament with immediate effect as is the case with judicial officers, notably magistrates and judges.
The workers are also demanding the resignation of Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda and registrar of the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal Agnes Patemba for allegedly failing to address their grievances.
But the Judiciary declared the strike as illegal as it had not been called for by the union and proper procedures have not been followed.
“The sit-in is, therefore, illegal and management is advising all members of staff to return to their work station and resume work …” reads a letter signed by the Judiciary controller of human resources management and development Evans Lora addressed to the support staff and other departments.
The bone of contention is an approval by Parliament of the conditions of service for judicial officers on March 21 2019 where, among others, the magistrates and judges have received a salary increment and a revision of their condition of service as per their request.
The support staff want their conditions of services to be handled by Parliament and not the Judicial Service Commission because they feel they are being treated unfairly.
In 2017, Treasury approved an allocation of housing allowance for judicial officers leaving out the support staff.
This prompted the support staff to down tools for over three weeks before arbitrators advised them to call it off to facilitate the right of access to justice and legal remedies of the citizens.