Fresh Crisis Looms As Justice Ministry Lawyers Issue Strike Notice
SAN FRANCISCO, January 18, (THEWILL) – A fresh crisis is looming at the Federal Ministry of Justice as lawyers working with the Ministry have issued a strike notice over what they described as poor working conditions.
In a 21-day strike notice issued to the Ministry in protest of “worsening conditions of services,” the workers operating under the aegis of the Law Officers Association of Nigeria (LOAN), said they would start a three-day warning strike from February 1, if the authorities concerned do not address their grievances.
The notice which commenced Monday January 12 and lapses on Sunday February 1 is coming at a time the ongoing strike by Judiciary workers has crippled the courts nationwide.
The workers are, among others, calling for the implementation of the Circular on Harmonisation issued by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in 1994 which Circular had been implemented by states ministries of justice except the Federal Ministry of Justice.
Maintaining that they would be embarking on strike, 'for the very first time' as Law Officers Association of Nigeria, the lawyers are also demanding the immediate payment of the outstanding balance of 2013 Robe allowance to all law officers and outstanding promotion arrears.
Other demands being made by the lawyers include : “The immediate payment of the 2014 Robe allowance to all law officers in Grade Level 14 to 17;
“The payment of the peculiar allowances including books, law reports, journals and other periodicals allowance:
“Robe allowances of N1.2million per annum;
“Car loans of N1.5m-N2.5m;
“Private practice prohibition allowances of 30 per cent of monthly salaries.”
The strike notice read in part: “At an interactive session held on Monday November 24, 2014 at the Olusegun Obasanjo Hall Federal Ministry of Justice Complex, Abuja, both the Law Officers and the Management, Federal Ministry of Justice, discussed extensively on the issue of over 20 years delay in the implementation of the Circular on Harmonisation and explored alternative options in the pursuit of a better condition of service for law officers incudling strike and other forms of industrial action.
“At the end of the session, the congress met and considered the worsening conditions of services of law officers in the Federal Ministry of Justice and the widening disparity in the salaries and emoluments of their state counterparts and resolved inter alia that-
“The management, federal Ministry of Justice be given six weeks of grace within which to concluded work on its ongoing consultations with identified stakeholders starting from Tuesday November 25, 2014 to Wednesday December 31st, 2014 in line with the intervention of the SGF/PS.”
The lawyers, who lamented that on December 31, 2014, the six weeks grace period given to the Ministry of Justice lapsed without the authorities doing anything about it, said the Ministry had also refused to settle all outstanding promotions arrears as well as robe allowances.