Suspects driven back to prison over judges salary strike

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Suspects being driven back to prison

Judges and magistrates once again on strike after issuing a 30-day ultimatum to government to increase their salary.

Under their umbrella body, the Uganda Judicial Officers Association (UJOA), the judges declared a strike only a month after their week-long strike.

UJOA president, Godfrey Kaweesa, said in a statement Friday that the judicial officers resolved on Tuesday this week to go on an indefinite strike starting Friday, August 25 should government “fail to comply with their genuine but humble demands.”

The statement ordered all members of UJOA not to report to work and any member who violates this directive shall be deregistered.

“Industrial action applies to all members. All judicial officers in possession of government property including cars should hand them over,” Kaweesa said.

He said UJOA shall remain open to discussion at all times provided that the same shall promote the welfare of judicial officers.

The Anti-corruption Court in Kampala and prison authorities have sent suspects back to prison.

The situation is not any different in other parts of the country like Masaka, Lyantonde and Jinja where court rooms have remained deserted.

Forty three suspects were driven back to prison after finding judicial officers at Luweero magistrates court on strike.

According to the current pay structure, the chief justice earns Shs 20m, his deputy Shs 18m and the principal judge Shs 10m while a Supreme court judge earns Shs 9.6m and a judge of the Court of Appeal/Constitutional court gets Shs 9.3m. A High court judge earns Shs 9m.

Grade II magistrates earn Shs 737, 837, a month, senior grade II magistrates (Shs 860, 810), principal magistrate Grade II (Shs 1.2m), magistrate grade I (Shs 1.5m) and principal magistrate grade I (Shs 2.1m).

A senior principal magistrate grade I gets Shs 2.2m, chief magistrate (Shs 2.4m), assistant registrar earns Shs 3.1m and chief registrar earns Shs 4.8m.

UJOA now wants the pay to be revised as follows: chief justice to earn Shs 55m, his deputy Shs 53m, the principal judge 50m, justices of the Supreme court (who are seven) each to earn Shs 34m, justices of the Court of Appeal (who are 13) each to earn Shs 33m, Justices of the High court (who are 47) to earn Shs 31m each.

The chief registrar who is one, to earn Shs 27m, registrars (who are three) to earn Shs 23m, deputy registrars (who are 29) to earn Shs 21m, assistant registrars (who are 12) to earn Shs 20m, chief magistrates (who are 44) to earn Shs 17m, senior principal magistrate grade one, (their numbers are not stated since the positions are vacant) to earn Shs 14m each, principal magistrate grade I (who are four) to earn Shs 14m, senior magistrate grade I (who are three) to earn 13.7m, grade I magistrate (who are 187) to earn Shs 13.3m and senior principal magistrate Grade II to earn Shs 12.6m.

If government agrees to the above proposed salary structure, it would pay Shs 95 billion per year on salaries of judicial officials, up from Shs 14 billion.

They also propose that magistrates must have drivers who are paid Shs 500,000 per month. They also want a monthly fuel allowance of Shs 2m.

And in the aftermath of the murders of former police spokesperson, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, and Senior Principal State Attorney Joan Kagezi, they suggested that every judicial officer should get bodyguards.

They say Mengo chief magistrate Mary Babirye was attacked in May at her home and 28 bullets were discharged.

Since judges have security, UJOA proposes a monthly security allowance of Shs 1m for each lower-level judicial officer.

UJOA proposes Shs 2m in housing allowance for magistrates in hard-to-reach and hard-to-stay upcountry stations.

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) advised the judicial officers to exhaust the first two options – negotiations and legal action before embarking on the strike.

Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, who is also the patron of UJOA, said in a counter-statement that he is not satisfied that the negotiations and legal action courses have been exhausted for UJOA to go the last resort.

Source: The Observer

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