Gov’t untruthful, lawyers strike still on

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In-court
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BY GEORGINA KEKEA/JENNIFER KUSAPA

THE strike notice issued by the Government Lawyers Association (GLA) has not been withdrawn. President of the GLA, Godfrey Male says they (GLA) have not yet come to an understanding nor is there any MOU to be signed between the two parties soon.

Male disregards comments made by the Permanent Secretary of Justice and Legal Affairs saying ‘government and GLA have reached an understanding with an MOU to be signed between the two parties soon’.

“We have not come to an understanding with an MOU to be signed. That is not true. Unless we receive an official response that is anything different from what we already received, this is untruthful”, Male said.

He said GLA need to make this clear to the public that the Ministry is not telling the truth before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) when they appear before the Committee.

“There are cases where lawyers have been put in danger. There are so many security risks that come with this job, but nothing in terms of financial compensation from SIG. Last week one government lawyer was assaulted by an accused/suspect because he is a prosecutor. This is just one of the many security risks faced by the government lawyers every year, but no financial incentive to address this,” Male said.

He said GLA wishes to bring this to light for the public to understand what is happening and why they are insisting that the government re-consider the terms and conditions of service.

Male said, it should also be clarified that their housing allowance is no different from what was already in the previous agreement.

He said the Ministry can give a 100 percent waiver and the waiver is dependent on factors such as security and so forth. He said it is not a new provision as it was already in the old agreement.

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“And we need to make it clear to the public that the ministry is not telling the truth before the PAC and also to the public there is no agreement reached and the strike notice has not been withdrawn”, Male reiterated.

Male also said the ministry has called for dialogue, but there has been no dialogue on their part.

“And we also would like to highlight the Ministry’s failure in taking a proactive role in addressing issues for justice. We have really tried to dialogue with the government over many years and actually they have failed their obligation and breach the agreement. We can sue on the agreement but we chose not to.

We’d like to also make it clear that they have until 4th December 2018 when the strike notice will lapse.

They have dragged their feet over the years and especially since February this year.

We perform the work. We are the engine room. Without the engine room, ship will not move. The ministry only deals with lawyers as professionals. No other professional cadres so it should not be very hard for government to address these issues yet it had proven very difficult for them”, Male said.

The GLA’s strike notice came at a critical time of the current government’s dying moment in parliament.

Next week, parliament should be deliberating on the 2019 Budget. The engine room of the ‘parliament’s’ Bills are the members of GLA.

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