Kampala — Judicial officers have suspended their industrial action to allow the ongoing negotiations with government to fulfil its commitments in regard to their welfare demands.
Under their Uganda Judicial Officers Association (UJOA), the judicial officers unanimously agreed to meet on February 12 next year to assess the government commitment.
The commitments, according to the UJOA president, Mr Godfrey Kaweesa, include salary increment, provision of motor vehicles to enhance land justice, medical insurance, housing allowance and security guards.
The decision to suspend the strike followed a revelation by Mr Kaweesa and an appeal by the Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine to differ their action to allow conclusion of the negotiations and consultations.
Mr Kaweesa said he held a telephone conversation with the Minister of Justice, Gen Kahinda Otafiire, who implored judicial officers to vacate the industrial action because government has finalised the salary increments.
Without a written commitment from the minister, Mr Kaweesa said government will in a week's time make a public pronouncement about its decision on the plight of judicial officers.
"The lack of a clear deployment policy and a need for human resource manual customised to suit the unique nature of judiciary is a source of injustice to judiciary. We feel there is a bit of marginalisation and people should have respective ways of associating and be able to work in both urban and rural centres while supporting their families and pursue their opportunities," Mr Kaweesa said.
Justice Bamwine said there was need to give chance to government to deliver on its promises. He said the ongoing negotiations are genuine for all public servants including approval of the requirements of judicial officers.
"As judicial officers, we took industrial action for our demands to be fulfilled but we regret the conditions in prisons. They are in a bad state, we would be in our offices doing what we are employed to do but fate has caught us here. We need time to talk about these things. There have been a lot of promises by the government but little has been achieved but it is good to have hope," he explained.
Justice Bamwine observed that Ugandans have suffered disruptions in service delivery due to the continuous industrial actions by the different institutions but was optimistic that the negotiations would find lasting solutions.
At the same meeting, it was revealed that government is in the final stages of tabling the Administration of Justice Bill before Parliament, a move that will see the judiciary attaining autonomy.
Mr Tom Chemutai, who represented the Chief Registrar, told the judicial officers that the Finance ministry has issued a certificate of financial implication which was the major impediment to the proposed law.
The remarks were made at the annual general meeting of judicial officers under the theme "independence of judiciary and the rule of law must take precedent".