General News of Tuesday, 18 July 2017
Judges and magistrates across the country have explained that they do not have any plans to lay down their tools in the midst of unpaid allowances.
There were earlier reports that the over five hundred members of the Association of Magistrates and Judges were threatening to embark on a nationwide strike over monies owed them by government.
Justice Victor Ofoe, President of the Association, admits “there is high tension” but a strike action is not on the agenda.
He told Chief Jerry Forson on Accra100.5FM on Tuesday July 18: “There is really tension among the judges and magistrates for which we have to take control of. Judges have never gone on strike and judges do not intend going on strike. It is not part of our policy at all to go on strike, no!”
However, he assured that the judges and magistrates will do their work efficiently and the situation will be resolved “after directing the high tension to the Chief Justice”.
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 were agitating over ex-gratia and certain benefits, indicating that such reports in the media were 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 stated.
He indicated that committees review the salaries and allowances of judges and magistrates every four years and if they are any increments they are backdated.
However, backdated salaries have not been paid to members for months and every effort made to the Finance Ministry to have it 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.”