Supreme Court Judge warns judiciary employees over strike

Malawi’s Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Atanazio Tembo has warned judiciary employees who have threatened to stage a national wide strike from 9 January 2012 that they will be acting illegally.

Justice Tembo, who is now the new chairperson of the working committee, has written the employees giving his legal advice. The employees are demanding their 40 percent salary increment after review of conditions of service in 2006 and another 50 percent they were promised in 2009.

Illegal

Tembo warns the staff that they could find themselves going against Part V of the Labour Relations Act.

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“I have noted your resolution to go on strike effective from 9th January, 2011 if by then your request for review of your conditions of service shall not be granted by the concerned authorities.

“Be that as it may, allow me to reiterate what I said in my brief address to your members during your meeting on 12th December. Since the retirement of the previous chairperson and vice chairperson of the committee on conditions of service for the Judiciary, earlier this year, the Honourable the Chief Justice has personally held discussions with the Chief Secretary, the Secretary to the Treasury and the Secretary for Human Resources on issues pertaining to your conditions of service. “

The judge said “reactions and responses are being awaited from these appropriate authorities, following such discussions.”

Justice Tembo says the new committee intends to fully engage the appropriate authorities effective from the month of January next year.

But he warns them, “Lastly, but not least, let me draw your attention to the requirements of the law, in particular Part V of the Labour Relations Act. If you are in doubt, or indeed have any issues unresolved in that regard, please obtain legal advice to ensure that you avoid acting illegally.”

Enough is enough

But the employees have hit back at Justice Tembo: “ Following the meeting that was held at Blantyre Magistrate Conference room on 12th December 2011 by all members of staff which was partly addressed by the current chairperson of the working committee on conditions of service who strived to paint a picture that there were efforts by the former committee and also the Honourable the Chief Justice to secure a positive outcome on the subject matter.

“The members resolved that they still find the efforts not bearing any fruits as a result they have resolved to go on strike come 9th January if they do not get their conditions of service as reviewed in 2006,” reads a letter from the junior staff addressed to the chairperson for working committee on conditions of service.

The employees rubbished Tembo’s threats saying “enough is enough.”

A memo from the staff reads, ““However, the working committee requested that the said action be called off as it feared the action would interfere with ongoing discussions between the committee and concerned authorities. This request was premised on condition that members of staff were going to be regularly informed of the developments on the ongoing discussions.”

But the employees argue that since the strike was cancelled there was no briefing instead several developments “creating further confusion on our position with regard to the conditions of service. An action that is pending in our courts (nobody knows the details of the matter) and adjustment of salaries and allowances for our colleagues in the civil service.”

The junior staff said courts will be at standstill from 9 January 2012.

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