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Opinions of Sunday, 22 May 2016

Columnist: Graphic.com.gh

We urge JUSAG to go back to work

Yesterday, the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (JUSAG) made good its threat to embark on an indefinite strike to back its demands for the implementation of the consolidated salaries and emoluments for members of the association.

We are saddened that a strike that was aborted on April 1, 2016, because of assurances from the government would still be called as a result of failed promises.

Indications are that the issue of consolidated salaries and emoluments dates back to 2012 when the Judicial Council embarked on a review of the conditions of service for judicial service staff, although the decision to consolidate all salaries and allowances was taken in 2015.

For a whole year, therefore, the JUSAG members have only lived in the hope that the consolidation would take effect and they were ready to rescind their decision to go on strike when they were assured that on April 4, 2016, the long-awaited dream would come true.

The Daily Graphic’s worry is not because the government failed to fulfil its part of the bargain when it mattered most. What we are concerned about is the lack of transparency and the failure of the government to get back to JUSAG when it realised it could not meet the deadline for implementation which it had set itself.

Nonetheless, we urge JUSAG to reconsider its strike and ask its members to return to work while the leaders find the reason for the delay in the consolidation of their salaries and allowances.

A very integral part of the country’s justice system is the judicial service staff, without whom the system would virtually grind to a halt.

There are several cases currently pending in the law courts which require facilitation by the JUSAG members. Their continued stay away from work will only stall those cases and prevent justice from being rendered, since the lawyers and judges cannot work without them.

What we fear most is that the longer JUSAG stays on strike, the more litigants would take the law into their hands and Ghana’s peace compromised.

We already have the issue of many remand cases in our prisons and the strike, especially if it is prolonged, would only worsen matters as accused persons and suspects cannot be arraigned.

The work of prosecutors would also be found wanting if judicial service staff decline to work and definitely justice would be denied a lot of people whose cases are already being tried, if the mantra, “Justice delayed is justice denied” is anything to go by.

While the Daily Graphic impresses upon the judicial staff to analyse the impact of their action on justice in the country and call off their strike, we also urge the government to dialogue with them on what has caused the delay and also make good its pledge to consolidate their salaries and allowances.

After all, they also patronise the same goods and services as everyone else so they need improved remuneration for their upkeep and deserve an explanation for the slow action on their grievances.