The Anambra State branch of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), has issued the state government with a two week ultimatum to adhere to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) it signed with it or face another industrial action.
Already, the union had issued its members letters to stand by for action attaching it with the letter written to the state government as a reminder, and the state government’s reply through the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof Solo Osita Chukwulobelu.
The State Chairman of (JUSUN), Comrade Mark Ifezue, told reporters, on Thursday, in Awka, that the union had made repeated demands for the payment of the said leave grant with no positive response from the state government.
According to him, “Recall, that the Union has written severally to the Dtate Government, drawing its attention to the continued breach of the M.O.U on Financial Autonomy of the State Judiciary entered into by the State Government and the Judiciary Staff Union, but could only get an unhelpful response from the office of the Secretary to the State Government.
“The Union view with regret, the deliberate refusal of the State Government to keep its own side of the bargain. The Union equally regrets the deliberate intention to starve the Judiciary of funds to execute its capital projects.
“It is almost impossible to power generators in the respective High Courts in the State and the Courts are sitting under a very harsh condition! Virtually all the Magistrate Courts are dilapidated and the working environment of the workers is unimaginably horrible. A good number of workers are without chairs and tables and other working materials.
“The Union found it very unsatisfactory, that outside the initial release made to the State Judiciary in the First quarter of 2015, consequent upon which the strike was suspended, the State Government has not deemed it fit to make further release in line with the M.O.U, despite repeated demands.
“The State Government has equally refused to pay the 2015 leave allowance of the staff of the Judiciary when other civil servants in the employ of the state have been paid.
“We have shown sufficient patience and understanding, and our patience out-stretched, the Judiciary workers will not be punished for asking for an autonomy for the State Judiciary, which, as a matter of fact and by law, is legitimate.
“Sequel to the above, the enlarged Executive Committee of the Union met on the 16th Day of June 2016 and after reviewing the situation resolved as follows.”
“To request the State Government to effectively address the issues raised within two weeks from date, i.e. the issue of non-compliance with the M.O.U as it regards capital votes and non-payment of leave allowance.”
“To take any action we deem fit and proper as a last resort without further recourse to the State Government by this notice, you are enjoined to be on the alert and await further directives from the Union, which may be sudden”.
But in a letter to the Union, through its chairman by the state government, signed by Chukuwlobelu, dated 11th March, 2016, it was clearly stated that the matter of budgetary allocation of funds was not a union issue, but a matter better handled between the Governor and the Chief Judge, who is the head of Judiciary.
The letter read, “It is observed that government is not signatory to the memorandum of understanding (MOU) annexed to your letter under reference.
“Considering the present fragile financial/economic situation of the country (Anambra state is not in any way, shape or form immune from it), may I advise that the time is totally inauspicious for this type of threatening and combative correspondence from any Union.
“Essentially, there is no ‘them and us’ between workers on one side and the government on the other, in this administration. Please be guided accordingly”, the state government wrote.