AG Kaphale stops judiciary support staff strike

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-Malawi government through Attorney General (AG) on Tuesday obtained an injunction stopping Judiciary support staff’s strike that was slated to start on Wednesday (today).

The strike aimed at forcing management to give them house allowance in line with their conditions of service which they say should be harmonized with those of judicial officers—judges and magistrates.

The staff even issued a 21-day ultimatum to have their demands addressed or authorities risked unspecified action. The ultimatum’s deadline was on May 2, 2017.

But AG alongside Charles Emuhiyemwana Lizigeni obtained an injunction stopping the strike on the grounds that it was illegal and that therefore must not be entertained.

Attorney General observed that the strike was not done in full compliance with the requisite procedures laid down under the Labor Relations Act and all relevant laws.

In action: court support staff striking in November 2014

“The notice is purportedly issued pursuant to Section 46 (3) of the Labor Relations Act. The Judiciary management is aware of the grievance the members of staff have in relation to the housing allowances issue and has over a period of time engaged the members themselves on the matter,” the injunction reads in part.

“Such being the case, the members of the staff who fail to report and carry out their duties as usual will be considered absent from duty,” warned the AG injunction statement.

Ministry of Justice and Constitution Affairs spokesperson Apoche Itimu backed the injunction saying the support staff needed to follow the right procedure of presenting their grievances to the ministry‘s principal secretary and wait for a response within 21 days before staging a strike.

But Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula wondered the logic of judiciary management saying it acted only on threat of strike adding that it could not come clear when the support staff presented their concerns.

Courts cannot function in the absence of the support staff as memories are still fresh when justice in the country was halted following a prolonged strike by the support staff from November 2014 to January 2015.

The seven-week strike in which junior staffs were demanding salary increment equal to their mainstream civil service counterparts led to congestion in police cells and piling of cases in courts.

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