State Attorneys Cripple Court

The administration of justice in the country grounded to a halt yesterday when state prosecutors handling cases in the various courts in Accra failed to show up.

The over 150 state attorneys had declared an indefinite strike action over poor conditions of service.

The state lawyers are trailing several groups that had resorted to strike actions to press home their demands for good conditions of service.

Strike appears to be the only language the Mahama administration understands when it comes to resolving industrial matters.

The action by the state attorneys follows a botched meeting with the Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah, at the presidency and a subsequent one with the Deputy Finance Minister, Ato Forson, on Monday.

At the various courts in Accra yesterday, the absence of the state attorneys was greatly felt as cases they were expected to come and prosecute stalled.

Judges had no other option than to adjourn cases involving state lawyers until the strike was called off.

The strike, which enters its third day this morning, comes on the heels of a similar one recently embarked upon by the Judicial Service Staff Association of Ghana (JUSAG).

The lawyers, among other things, are demanding the harmonization of their salaries and benefits with those of circuit court judges as stipulated in Sections 5 and 6 of the Legal Services Act of 1993.

They recently warned that it would embark on a strike on July 6, 2015, if concerns over their salaries were not addressed by the government.

A copy of the letter dated June 25, 2015, serving notice of the impending strike stated, ‘…We can no more wait indefinitely, please take note and notice is hereby given pursuant to National Labour Commission (NLC) Regulations 2006, (LI 1822) that state attorneys below the rank of chief state attorney have intention to embark on legal strike.’

The letter, addressed to the Ministers of Finance, Justice and Attorney General said, ‘We wish to state that we are displeased about your demonstration of lack of willingness to act timeously, which can be gleaned from the fact that almost 10 months after petitioning the NLC, nothing concrete has been done by you to address our grievances.’

According to the letter written by Francisca Tette-Mensah, national president of the state attorneys association, ‘Benefits such as personal chauffeur-driven vehicles, book/research allowances, free medical care, personal security at post, among others which are being enjoyed by judges of the Lower Court Bench of the judiciary as part of their conditions of service, should be applicable to state attorneys without discrimination.’

By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson
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