Judges threaten strike over unpaid ex gratia, allowances

General News of Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Source: Graphic.com.gh

2017-07-18

Sophia 22Ministry of Finance had given several assurances to release the funds but nothing had been done

Five hundred members of the Association of Magistrates and Judges are threatening to embark on a nationwide strike over unpaid allowances.

Another issue they are grappling with is the non-payment of benefits due superior court justices under Article 71 of the 1992 Constitution.

According to a highly placed source, superior court judges, just like Members of Parliament (MPs) and other Article 71 office holders, are entitled to some benefits after every four years of service.

“However, our members have not been paid since December 2016, although other Article 71 office holders have been settled,” the source told the Daily Graphic in an interview in Accra yesterday.

Article 71 office holders include the Speaker and the Deputy speakers of Parliament, MPs, the Chief Justice and other justices of the Superior Court of Judicature, the Auditor-General, the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), the Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and his/her deputies and the Administrator of the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF).

Others are the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman and other members of the National Council for Higher Education, the Public Services Commission, the National Media Commission (NMC), the Lands Commission and the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE).

Other allowances

According to the source, other allowances, such as book and fuel, were yet to be paid to judges on the lower and the superior benches.

The allowances, it said, had been outstanding since January 2017.

“Our members are struggling to fuel their vehicles and buy law books which are mostly expensive and are, therefore, imploring the government to take immediate steps to settle us,” it said.

Unheeded calls

According to the source, the Ministry of Finance had given several assurances to release the funds but nothing had been done.

“The latest assurance was given three months ago but we are yet to receive what is due us. We have been patient enough but it appears our cries have not been heard. We are, by this notice, urging the government to take immediate steps to pay us our due,” it prayed.

Responding to the concerns raised by the Judges and Magistrates Association, a Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr Kwaku Kwarteng, said his attention had been drawn to the issue and that he would follow up on it.

Reports reaching the Daily Graphic at the time of going to press indicated that all Article 71 office holders who had not received their ex gratia were also planning to drag the government to court to demand their benefits.

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