General News of Tuesday, 18 July 2017
Five hundred members of the Association of Magistrates and Judges, Ghana are threatening to embark on a nationwide strike over unpaid allowances.
Justice Victor Ofoe, President of the Association, indicated that some of its members have not had any salary reviews since 2013. The arrears of other members whose salaries have been reviewed have also not been paid by government, posing financial difficulties.
“As we speak now [magistrates and judges] in the lower courts at the villages are doing their own movements from their own salaries which have not been reviewed since 2013,” he complained during an interview with Jerry Forson on Accra100.5FM on Tuesday, July 18.
He further added that the affected people are “handling their own fuel issues and some who have rented accommodation are paying their own rent which government is supposed to pay by the conditions of service”.
He revealed that assurances by the Finance Ministry have not been honoured and the back and forth has continued for several months which they cannot bear any longer.
Justice Ofoe revealed that a meeting was held on Monday, July 17, and the outcome was for the payment of arrears of superior court judges to be cleared soonest.
However, he indicated that rent and fuel allowance issues are still pending.
He is hopeful that the intervention of Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo after Monday’s meeting will yield positive results.
Justice Ofoe discounted claims that the judges are agitating over ex-gratia and certain benefits, indicating that such reports in the media are false.
“It is factually not correct that judges and certain category of people are entitled to certain benefits every four years, that is not the case”.
He indicated that committees review the salaries and allowances of judges and magistrates every four years and if they are any increments it is backdated.
However, backdated salaries have not been paid to members for months and every effort made to the Finance Ministry to have them paid has not been successful.
He said the situation has placed a financial burden on some judges and magistrates as they have to use their own means to finance accommodation, transportation, and other needs.
“You increase the person’s salary but you continue to pay him the old salary and you have to pay him the difference between the old salary and the new one that has been constitutionally determined by a body, so it is not benefits that is gotten every four years,” he pointed out.
“Committees sit virtually every four years then they come out to determine the salaries of a certain category of people including judges. Invariably they find themselves increasing the salaries and as a matter of course backdate the operative date of the salary so it is these arrears in salary that the judges of the superior courts are claiming and not benefits they take every four years, neither is it ex-gratia as I am told Graphic has reported; it is not ex-gratia.”