22 August 2017

Malawi: Support Staff Continue to Shut Down Malawi Courts, Maintain Position On Their Benefits

Business in Malawi's courts continue to be on standstill following a stand taken by Judiciary support staff not to return to work and until their demands for housing allowance , among other grievances.

Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) threatened to withhold salaries of staff involved in the strike calling it illegal.

The support staff includes court reporters that record all court proceedings, stenographers who transcribe them, court clerks, secretaries and guards.

However, the Judiciary support staff have refused to be cowed by the OPC even these use of force by Malawi Police.

Spokesperson for the support staff Andy Haliwa faulted OPC for their threats, saying only a competent court of law ca determine on legality or illegality of strike.

"The workers maintain their demands for housing allowances as is the case with judicial officers - magistrates and judges," said Haliwa.

Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda earlier on Monday addressed the workers and appealled to them to resume their work.

Meanwhile, leader of opposition Lazarous Chakwera told a news conference in Lilongwe that the Executive should not use force to resolve the four-week strike.

"By saying that 'go to work or else... ' means that government is already using force. This is not about who has more power, but rather finding lasting solutions to the problems raise," said Chakwera.

He condemned the use of armed police officer to force workers to resume work when they raided the courts on Friday.

"By the way this is not a police State that we should be using the police to intimidate people," the opposition leaders said.

In a related development, Judiciary support staff have said they will lodge a formal complaint to International Labour Organisation following the police harrassment.

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