Law News
You can’t intimidate us, judiciary workers tell Obiano

The Anambra State branch of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria on Monday insisted that it would not end its two-month strike.

It faulted the Willie Obiano-led state government’s proposal for ending the strike, insisting that no amount of intimidation would make them return to work until the lingering issue of Consolidated Judiciary Salary Structure was addressed.

Reacting on the state government’s proposal to end the strike, the state Chairman of JUSUN, Mark Ifezue, said the union was aware that the government was making moves to engage those he described as thugs to act as workers and open the courts for business.

He described the move as an exercise in futility.

According to the chairman, the union considered the draft proposal from the state government and decided to reject it because the proposal was not time-structured, adding that some portions of the proposal were not specific.

The chairman said, “The government proposal did not offer what the state will pay as CONJUSS when the IGR doubles in 2016. Besides, CONJUSS is not peculiar to Anambra State as it is a salary structure worked out for the judiciary workers in the country and virtually all the state judiciaries are implementing it.

“The union is aware that in January 2015, the state government added 20 per cent to the salary of health workers, raising their salaries to 60 per cent from 40 per cent, just as the salaries of teachers were equally adjusted. The salaries of judiciary workers were increased by a paltry five per cent.

“If the increase in the salaries of health workers as well as the adjustment in teachers’ salaries could not wait till when Internally Generated Revenue doubles, the issue of CONJUSS should be addressed. We observe with dismay, the state government’s unwillingness to address the issue, but rather chose to indulge in blackmail, propaganda and looking for scapegoats.

“Our position is that the state government should address the issue of CONJUSS by working out and agreeing with the union on an acceptable salary chart based on CONJUSS emoluments with a defined time of implementation.”

Meanwhile, the Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, has insisted that the state government will not pay the salaries of judiciary workers for the period in which the strike embarked upon by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria lasted.

Oshiomhole said that his administration would not use taxpayers’ money to pay those whom he said chose to stay at home for months on a strike which he described as “ill-informed.”

Judiciary workers under the aegis of JUSUN in the state had embarked on a seven-month industrial action, which lasted from January to July, 2015, to demand the implementation of the financial autonomy granted to the judiciary by an Abuja Federal High Court in 2014.

But the governor, who spoke at the 2015/2016 Legal Year event of the state judiciary, said that the Trade Union Act was clear on the forfeiture of the wage of any worker who embarked on strike.

He said, “Under Convention 98 of the Industrial Labour Organisation, it states clearly that you have a right to go on strike, otherwise, it is slave labour; But the Trade Union Act is very clear that, notwithstanding any reason, if you embark on a strike, you forfeit your wages.

“That is the law, that is the convention and this convention has been domesticated in our labour laws and I ask you to look at all the provisions taken together in the various Trade Dispute Acts and Amendment Act, you not only forfeit your wages, you forfeit your seniority and you can be dismissed summarily.

“This is the law and the business of the court is to interpret the law without fear, even if the litigant is an officer of the court. The court is not a respecter of its own employees. So, it must dispense justice even if it does not favour the officers of the High Court and that is what we have taken note to do.”

Oshiomhole further urged the labour union to reorder its steps by running the union within the guidelines provided by trade union laws, rather than using “illegal tools in the pursuance of legal ends.”

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