Judiciary Alarms Over Staff Protest Disruptions -Calls on Staff to Exercise Restraint as Govt Address their Issue

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In the wake of continued protests by employees of the Judiciary over cuts in their salaries, the Judiciary says it will not countenance sporadic protest actions particularly targeting the Chief Justice and disrupting court proceedings, despite efforts being made by both the Judicairy and authorities of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to have the employees’ salary cut issue addressed.

According to a press release from the Liberian Judiciary, some employees of the Judiciary, led by Archie Ponpon, continue to stage sporadic protest actions, particularly targeting the Chief Justice and disrupting court proceedings.

“Information is that these employees intend to disrupt the ensuing opening of the Civil Law Court. The Judiciary is a neutral ground where party litigants go to seek remedy within the ambit of the law. Protests, demonstration, and strike actions, etc., disrupt court processes and deprive party litigants of unhindered right of access to justice; these are in violation of law and cannot be allowed to continue,” the Judiciary release stated.

The Judiciary further stated that it acknowledges the concerns of its employees regarding cuts in their salaries by the Government of Liberia under the program of Harmonization and Standardization which took effect about a year ago.

“When the matter was first raised with the Chief Justice, he set up a committee to listen to the concerns of the employees with the view of providing appropriate explanations. While this was being done, some of the employees resulted to protest actions. This prompted a meeting of the employees with the Full Bench of the Supreme Court. At that meeting which was also attended by representatives of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the Civil Service Agency, explanations were provided by the representative of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning regarding the salary cuts. The employees were especially informed that the cuts in salaries were not done by the Judiciary and that the cuts affected all employees in the Government sector,” the release averred.

Subsequent to these interactions, the Judiciary claimed that the Chief Justice asked the employees to designate representatives to engage with the team from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the Civil Service Agency, as well as the Judiciary to have a full understanding of the impact of the harmonization process on the salaries of the employees and seek the way forward in easing the financial burden occasioned by the salary cuts.

“The Judiciary takes note of the appearance of the Minister of Finance & Development Planning, Hon. Samuel D. Tweah on Radio Okay FM on Tuesday, September 15, 2020, at which time he expressed Government’s concern of the impact of the harmonization program on civil servants and committed that the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning was doing everything possible to address the issue.

The release continued that, despite these efforts being made by both the Judiciary and authorities of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the Civil Service Agency, some employees of the Judiciary, led by Archie Ponpon, continue to stage sporadic protest actions, particularly targeting the Chief Justice and disrupting court proceedings. Information is that these employees intend to disrupt the ensuing opening of the Civil Law Court.

“The Judiciary is a neutral ground where party litigants go to seek remedy within the ambit of the law. Protests, demonstration, and strike actions, etc., disrupt court processes and deprive party litigants of unhindered right of access to justice; these are in violation of law and cannot be allowed to continue.

As the Judiciary remains engaged with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in finding a possible solution which will incur to their benefit, we call the employees to exercise patience and refrain from actions that will disrupt judicial processes,” the Judiciary implored.

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