Courts Shut Down Over Strike

The administration of justice in the country grounded to a halt yesterday as the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (JUSAG) commenced its intended nationwide strike.

Scores of litigants who thronged various courts in Accra left in disappointment due to the indefinite strike action by JUSAG.

The situation was not different in other towns and cities throughout the country.

The judicial workers had laid down their tools to demand the payment of their accumulated allowances.

Closed Courts
At the specialised courts in Accra, there were not much activities as most of the usual busy ones had been closed as at 9am.

The story was not different at the 28 February Road courts, popularly called the Cocoa Affairs Courts, also in Accra.

All of them, including the registry, had been closed while the (court) clerks were spotted sitting in groups under trees.

Prosecutors, lawyers and Court Warrant Officers (CWOs) on the other hand, were loitering about with virtually no work to do.

Police investigators had no other option than to return accused persons they had brought from the various remand centres for trial until further notice.

In-camera Hearings
Meanwhile, DAILY GUIDE learnt that some judges were hearing cases they deemed ‘pressing’ in their chambers.

It may be recalled that the executives of JUSAG last week indicated their intention to withdraw their services on May 20, 2015 following government’s failure to pay their outstanding allowances.

JUSAG had claimed that the government had delayed in paying their allowances from July 2014 till date, insisting that all efforts and dialogues to address the matter had proved futile; hence, the strike action.

In April, Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, advised the association to use dialogue to address its grievances concerning conditions of service with the Judicial Council, and indicated that his outfit and the Fair Wages and Salary Commission (FWSC) would be available to offer advice.

The minister, at a meeting held between government and JUSAG regarding the payment of allowances, appealed to the latter to suspend the intended strike.

However, JUSAG insisted it would embark on the strike action until government had settled the outstanding arrears it owed members.

Going Home
Alex Nartey, President of JUSAG, addressing members on Tuesday,said: ‘We [JUSAG] are going home; when government calls us and tells us that it has paid all the allowances due us tomorrow, we will come back to work the following day.’

He stated that JUSAG was compelled to take such a decision because its patience had run out.

‘We are workers who are full of discipline. We are not being mischievous; we are not being destructive,’ he said.

Situation In Cape Coast
In the Central Region, Sarah Afful reports that drama unfolded at the Cape Coast court when JUSAG members locked the various gates leading to the court premises.

DAILY GUIDE observed that the irate workers had placed red bands in front of the doors and windows of the court building, sending signals to the public that they had withdrawn their services.

As at 8am, litigants who were not aware of the strike were stranded.

A worker who left his Identification Card (ID) at the office and wanted to go and pick it to fill a form at the SSNIT office was denied entry by the security officers at the gate.

No lawyer or judge was found at the court premises yesterday.
By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson

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