Malawi judges may go on strike

The office of the Registrar of the High Court, which is the mouthpiece for the Judiciary, has remained tight-lipped on the Judges and Registrars’ impending strike scheduled to begin on February 29 should government not address their concerns, The Daily Times reported on Friday.

But according to the daily, Deputy Registrar for the High Court, Michael Tembo, neither denied nor confirmed about the looming strike, saying negotiations of conditions of service are still ongoing.

“What I can say is that matters of conditions of service for the Judiciary as approved in 2006 are still under negotiations between the Judiciary and the Executive,” Tembo is quoted as saying.

Judges: No court activity

The newspaper quotes what it describes as “well-placed sources privy to the issue” as revealing that the Judges resolved to go on strike at their two-day meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday last week in Blantyre and a letter to that effect was dispatched to government on Thursday last week.

In the letter, among other things, the Judges and the Registrars are reportedly demanding the implementation of their conditions of service, which includes a salary hike.

They are also demanding payment of salary arrears accrued through the executive’s failure to implement the approved salary structure, which should be paid with interest.

According to the sources, the newspaper reports, the letter emphasizes that should government fail to meet their demands by February 29, 2012, they would take an unspecified action.

Judiciary support staff members have been on strike for five weeks now, demanding that government implements conditions of service approved by the National Assembly in 2006. Government has described the strike as “illegal”.

In a statement released last week, Secretary for Public Service Management, Isaac Zimba Bondo says the executive could not implement the said approved conditions of service as the Ministry of Finance was not fully consulted, which was against the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act of 2003.

“That said, if the Executive branch were to implement the salary structure [which was part of the approved conditions of service], the comparison between the salaries of the Judiciary and the Civil Service would have been characterized by glaring inequalities,” said Bondo in his statement.

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