AFTER four months of bickering and name -calling, the strike action by the judiciary workers in Anambra State has finally been called off, thanks to an agreement reached on December 31, 2015 between the workers and the state government. With the development, courts in the state, which had remained under lock for the past four months reopened on Monday.
A statement signed by the state chairman of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN, Comrade Mark Ifezue directed the workers to resume work on Monday, January 4, 2016. Ifezue said the suspension of the strike followed an agreement JUSUN reached with the state government.
The statement circulated by Ifezue and circulated in Awka read: gFollowing the resolution of the industrial dispute between the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria and the Anambra State government, as shown in the agreement entered between the parties this 31st day of December , 20015, the industrial action embarked upon by the judiciary workers of Anambra State on the 7th day of September , 2015 is hereby suspended.
The union appreciates the efforts of the leadership of Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, in Anambra State towards the resolution of the crisis, particularly the committee of the NBA chairmen and secretaries. The union, in a special way appreciates the efforts of the intervention group, co-chaired by the emeritus chairman of the NLC, Comrade Charles Onyeagba and Chuka Obele Chuka and we remain grateful to governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano for his understanding.
Before the suspension of the strike, officials of JUSUN held a meeting with the state government officials, during which it was agreed that the workersf outstanding September and October, 2015 salaries would be paid in two installments, instead of three installments as government earlier offered.
According to the new agreement, the workersf December, 2015 salary would be paid upon resumption of work, while September and October 2015 salaries would be paid along with January and February 2016 salaries respectively.
Indeed, the strike had its toll on the state judiciary while it lasted as both the litigants and court workers, including Judges and Magistrates, remained at home. Both the state government and officials of JUSUN met severally to find a way of resolving the matter, but could not agree during the early stage of the strike.
At a time government and the leadership of the workers were trying to reach an agreement, the national leadership of JUSUN put a wedge on the whole situation by asking its state branch to suspend further discussions with government until there was a definite date for the commencement of the implementation of Consolidated Judiciary Staff Salary, CONJUSS, which they said many states were already implementing.
The strike, however, took a new dimension when some of the judiciary workers who call themselves eConcerned striking judiciary workers of Anambra State issued a statement calling on their colleagues to resume work immediately. The splinter group was led by Comrade F.O. Chirah and Chike Iweka who, at a meeting of their group, alleged that the strike was influenced by external forces in the state and argued that continuing with it no longer made any sense.
To them, the agreement entered into by the government and JUSUN was fair to all concerned and asked the representatives of JUSUN to stop foot dragging in the signing of the said documents since both parties mutually agreed to it. But they were soon to discover that they were alone as the workers chose to only obey their recognized leaders and they waited till their chairman, Ifezue directed them to return to work.