Magistrates have put on hold plans to indefinitely withdraw their services starting Monday after Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda swiftly moved in to simmer down their ‘rage’.
Last week, the magistrates petitioned President Peter Mutharika over their poor remuneration and benefits, giving him a seven-day ultimatum to address their demands. The cut-off date was today.
However, on Monday the chief justice met representatives of the aggrieved magistrates and assured them that government would address their grievances.
Spokesperson of the magistrates Kondani Chinangwa confirmed in an interview yesterday they had put on hold intentions to go on strike starting tomorrow following “a fruitful meeting with the Chief Justice.”
Said Chinangwa: “We explained our concerns to him and why we came up with the petition. But after that meeting we agreed to put the strike on hold first as we wait to hear from the authorities.”
He said the magistrates felt their grievances were not being addressed by the Executive; hence, their petition to the President.
“We feel the pain of hardships existing in our country. We thought our friends in government were given the percentage that at least alleviated their pain. We also want our perks to be adjusted as approved by Parliament in 2012,” said Chinangwa.
He said they were surprised that there has not been any notable progress on the matter since it was taken to Parliament for intervention.
The magistrates want the matter to be addressed before the end of the 2014/2015 financial year, whose parliamentary proceedings are due to start on May 5.
In February this year, the judges and magistrates rejected a 22 percent salary increase offer and pulled out of negotiations with Capital Hill.
Their decision came barely a month after the end of a seven-week Judiciary support staff strike that paralysed the country’s justice delivery system between November and December last year.
And in the petition to Mutharika, dated April 23 2015 and entitled ‘Notice to Strike by Magistrates for Non-Compliance and Implementation of Salaries Approved by National Assembly’, the magistrates say their action is in “pursuant to Section 46  of the Labour Relations Act, as read with Section 31 of the Republican Constitution”, which gives the right to every person “including magistrates” to withdraw labour.
“Your Excellency, as a fair labour practice, we give seven  days’ notice effective the date undersigned to this petition in writing that should the dispute remain unresolved by the 3rd of May 2015, we reserve the right to withdraw our labour,” the petition, which The Nation has seen, reads in part.