Lawyers protest

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Strike looms in gov’t judicial sector

BY GEORGINA KEKEA

WHILE members of Parliament are anticipating $400,000 terminal grant each any time soon, government Lawyers are anticipating a sit in strike on the 4th of December 2018.

Again the cause for strike is the terms and conditions of service for government lawyers.

Since 2012, the Government Lawyers Association (GLA) has been pushing for a scheme of service to improve their terms and conditions of service. Six years on, they are still singing the same song, but now with a raspy voice.

Just in October (last month), a strike notice was issued by government lawyers, ie; Lawyers from the agencies, the Attorney General’s Chamber, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Public Solicitors Office, the Law Reform Commission, the Office of the Public Trustee (under Registrar General’s Office) and the Policy section of the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs.

It is no secret that lawyers are struggling with extreme workload and are the ones tasked to consult, and write up policies/laws that government (MPs) takes to parliament to deliberate on.

On top of that, the judicial sector is constantly faced with challenges to keep experienced and/or lawyers in the sector. Much of government’s advisers in the judicial sector are a group of young Solomon Islanders. Most experienced lawyers have already left the government to establish their own businesses where the grass is greener.

The latest of government’s dedicated and long serving lawyer that had handed in his three months resignation recently, is based in Auki. He’s absence will be greatly felt by the Judicial sector.

Throughout the years, GLA has been pushing the Ministry and Government to address their scheme of service.

In 2012, GLA says government had been sleeping on this issue. In 2018, government is now said to drag its feet in this issue, with Island Sun reliably informed that a proposed salary structure for government lawyers is before the Ministry of Commerce, Labour and Immigration.

However because of the complexities surrounding this issue (as a draft National Wage policy is also in the making), work has not been able to progress as expected.

Without addressing the MOU and a scheme for lawyers, government and the people will lose out on the much needed service of lawyers (in the form of public solicitors etc.).

The requirements and challenges on the role of lawyers are quite high, and what is needed is to ensure a lawyer is able to perform his/her function to a level where the right quality service is delivered. This guarantee is missing.

Island Sun has not been able to get comments from the Permanent Secretary of Justice and Legal Affairs to find out the status or progress of the said ‘scheme of service’ or the strike notice when this paper goes to print.

However it is understood that in 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Government and GLA obligates the government to review the full conditions of lawyers’ services.

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