From VAL OKARA, Owerri
Staffers of Imo State judiciary will today commence an indefinite strike to press home their grievances over alleged selective implementation of the minimum wage at the expense of the workers in the state judiciary by the Governor Rochas Okorocha administration. This was contained in a communiqué issued after a general meeting of the state chapter of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).
The communiqué, signed by the state Chairman, Aloka Kenneth; Secretary, Elder Rufus Abanobi and the Public Relations Officer, Christian Nwachukwu, also enumerated efforts by the union to amicably settle the dispute with the state government without resorting to industrial action. It was also noted that JUSUN national headquarters had also written to the state government on four occasions on the matter without any response from the state. According to the communiqué, the union had already exhausted the 21-day and 14-day statutory notices for industrial action without any reasonable response from the state government.
Daily Sun gathered that national officers of the union, Habila J. Dacep, National Legal Adviser; Mrs Victoria Folake Lanro, National Vice President, North Central and Mr. Celestine Chukwu national organizing secretary were consequently dispatched to the state to officially declare the commencement of the industrial action. Dacep, who spoke on behalf of the national officers, said the strike was endorsed by the national headquarters of the union in accordance with the provisions of Article 29 of the JUSUN constitution. Not too long ago, the Body of Chief Judges in Nigeria met and reviewed the conditions of service of staff in the nation’s judiciary.
In its communiqué, Body of Chief Judges recommended a Consolidated Salary Structure for Judiciary Staff (CONJUSS) in the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory. However, state chapters of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) were given the privilege to go to their different states and territories to negotiate the implementation of the CONJUSS. “After series of negotiations, the Ohakim administration agreed to pay Imo judiciary staff what was called Enhanced Welfare Conditions of Service for all staff of Imo State judiciary which amounted to 50 per cent of the benchmark nationally provided by CONJUSS.
“Consequently, it brought the minimum wage of judiciary staff in Imo to N17, 736.25k. Government, however, agreed to upgrade this Enhanced Condition of Service as time and economic convenience would permit. The agreement was signed and implemented in 2010.” However, when the Okorocha administration implemented the N20, 000 minimum wage, the emoluments of the judiciary staff were not reconciled to reflect the minimum wage and as such were excluded from the improved minimum wage. Efforts by the union to get government to respect the agreement signed with it in 2010 had not been fruitful till date.