Judiciary Suspends Industrial Action
The Judicial officers, who on August 25, 2017 went on strike resolved to return to work on September 7, 2017.
The judicial officers under their umbrella the Uganda Judicial Officers Association (UJOA) set a deadline of December 11, 2017 for Government to meet all their demands, lest they resume industrial action.
Judicial officers who include Judges at all levels of the High Court to the Supreme Court, Registrars and Magistrates reached a consensus on September 5, 2017 to call of the strike after the Government promised to fulfill their demands by October, 2017.
In a unanimous resolution, the Judicial Officers who congregated under UJOA decided to resume work as they continue engaging the Government in their discussion on their salaries and welfare.
During deliberation of Government offers, many members expressed reservation, saying that whereas the Government had shown commitment, there was no definite date to operationalize it, prompting them to set a deadline of December 11, 2017.
On September 4, 2017 the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Rtd Gen. Hon. Kahinda Otafiire said as an emergency measure before the salary review, the Government is granting judicial officers vehicles, security detail and “office equipment” to facilitate their work.
The strike crippled the court system especially in the High and Magistrate courts, which handle a bulk of criminal cases countrywide.
In his opening remarks, the Chief Registrar, HW Paul Gadenya commended judicial officers for having taken a common stand during the peaceful strike.
However, Hon. Justice Katureebe regretted that many citizens had to spend long periods in police cells during the strike.
The CJ hailed the contribution made by the Magistrates whom he described as the foot soldiers in the Judiciary’s dispensation of justice. He said he would continue to agitate for their salaries to be increased and to see that their general welfare is improved.
“Now that we have made the point, I am requesting you to go back to the courts and first grab what the Government has promised us. This struggle is not about to end, but we must continue with it. Be calm, sober as a judge as we continue to push for our struggle together for the judicial independence,” Hon.Justice Katureebe said
He disclosed that he wrote to President Museveni and explained to him that it was not feasible to increase the CJ’s salary when the Magistrates are still suffering.
Principal Judge, Hon. Justice Dr Yorokamu Bamwine said there is need for judicial officers to fight case backlog in the Judiciary.
He also called for the implementation of the administration of the Justice bill so that the Judiciary can manage its own affairs. Hon. Justice Dr Bamwine disclosed that the Judiciary currently gets 0.6 percent of the national budget,which is small compared to other arms of Government.
Out-going Deputy Chief Justice, Hon. Justice Steven Kavuma also advised judicial officers to go back to court and continue to serve people while the struggle for systematic improvement of their welfare continues.
“Let’s work so that we risk not losing many allies in this struggle” Hon. Justice Kavuma advised. “I am not going to struggle for your pay but for a fair share of your budget cake,” Hon. Kahinda Otafiire