Malawi court workers ‘satisfied’ with signed pact

Malawi judiciary workers who have been on strike since January 9  now say they are ready to resume work because they are satisfied with an agreement they have signed with government.

The striking employees signed an agreement with government on Saturday, March 24, after the two parties engaged each other in a protracted discussion that failed to provide for answers.

Austin Kamanga, spokesperson of the judiciary staff, said the workers were ready to resume work and serve the public because their demands have finally been honoured.

Lawyers to get back to court as court workers end strike

“We are looking forward to resuming work on Monday and continue providing services to the people because government has finally agreed to honour what we wanted,” said Kamanga.

He added: “When we started pressing for it, we never expected that it would take this long because we thought it was a simple and straight forward issue.”

Kamanga said they hoped that following the settlement agreement, government would swiftly start processing the payments and make necessary amendments to their conditions of services.

Asked what they will do should government play tricks despite signing the agreement, Kamanga said “by signing the agreement, it shows government has committed itself to honour what was approved and we do not think it can go against its commitment.”

The judicial workers’ indefinite industrial action which began on January 9 to force government to implement their new conditions of service as approved by parliament way back in 2006 totally paralysed the judicial system in the country with police cells and prisons remanding more than their capacities.

Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Bright Msaka, told journalists in Lilongwe Saturday that the executive branch of government and the striking staff had reached an agreement on terms and conditions to the satisfaction of both sides.

“What is important is that it is not the judiciary or the executive that has emerged triumphant. The winner is our nation, democracy and nationalism,” Msaka said, adding that the judiciary will be paid their arrears in due course.

A two paragraph communiqué issued by the two parties confirming the agreement read:“Following the industrial action by the judicial officers and non judicial staff, representatives of government and the judiciary have been meeting in order to find an amicable solution to the issues that led to the industrial action. The two parties have, after appropriate consultations reached an agreement on all the issues of concern and settlement agreement has been signed today, 24 March2012.

“As a result of signing this settlement agreement, the industrial action has now ceased and the courts will start functioning on Monday 26th of March 2012.”

The Communiqué which Nyasa Times has a copy was signed by Msaka and Justice Atanazia Tembo, Chairperson of Special Working Committee on conditions of Service from Malawi Judiciary.

According to the Judicature Act, conditions of service in the court system are subject to review and endorsement by the National Assembly every three years while other government employees often receive yearly pay increases.

It is believed that following the strike, Malawi had probably become the first nation in the world to stay for over two months without its citizens accessing justice in courts.

The strike turned prisons and police cells hell on earth as prisoners and suspects were packed like poles because of in adequate space and the courts were closed.

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