Malawi courts shut down, staff strike for pay rise

Malawi’s court clerks, reporters and other employees of the judiciary resumed their work from a two week recess Monday January 9 with a ‘pen-down’ strike  over work conditions.

The judiciary workers say government has failed to implement new condition of service as approved by Parliament in 2006.

It was all a quiet mood at the High Court in Blantyre  when Nyasa Timesvisited the premise in the morning and found court workers in groups charting with no sign that they will return to work any time soon.

Blantyre High Court: Strike

On the main entrance to the court hang two posters that read: “Give us our money” and “Our condition of service not negotiable”.

“There’s nothing more we can do after waiting for six years,” spokesperson for the employees Austin Kamanga said.

Kamanga said they had been planning for the strike since last December and that they will only return to work once the new condition of service that have been gathering dust for the past six years are put into effect.

“All was set for the sit-in and that court operations at both Magistrates and High Courts will resume only if government implement the new condition of service,” he said.

No justice delivery

“People have to know that the strike has been arrived at following several meetings with relevant authorities including Ministry of Labour. There will be no court cases, no judges and no magistrates to serve the public until the issue of condition of service is sorted out,” Kamanga said.

He also said according to the Judicial Administration Act, government is expected to review condition of service for court workers every three years and that the failure to effect the 2006 approved condition of services affected the follow up review that was expected to happen in 2009.

“This is 2012 and the 2006 approved condition of services are not working. We want them to know that we are here for right course and they have to ensure that we have right condition of services otherwise the courts will remain closed,” he added.

Among other things outlined in the condition of services are salary increments, allowance increment, improved medical scheme as well as other social enclosures for the judicial workers, which include judges and magistrates.

“Government has been aware of this, we have been negotiating. They even said they will be implementing the approved condition of service in phases but they have failed to do that. Now we have no options but to go for a strike to raise our grievances,” Kamanga added.

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