Ebonyi State Judiciary workers on Thursday began an indefinite strike to drive home their demand for the implementation of the Consolidated Judiciary Salary Structure (CJSS).
As a result of the strike, no court proceeding was held at the State High Court on Thursday.
When PREMIUM TIMES visited the State Judiciary headquarters, workers were absent but police officers were seen at the gate possibly to protect the facility.
The workers had about three weeks ago issued a 14-day ultimatum for the implementation of the CJSS, and later served the state government a seven-day notice for the strike.
The Vice President of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (South East Zone), Mark Ifezue, said the national leadership of the union directed the workers to withdraw their services pending the implementation of the wage structure.
“I am in Ebonyi State to show solidarity with the workers of Ebonyi State Judiciary over their problem with the state government that bordered on the implementation of the state Judiciary salary,” he said.
“Virtually all the states in Nigeria are implementing the salary package but Ebonyi State has refused to do that and the workers have been on the struggle since 2015 but nothing positive has come out of it.
“We have had a series of meetings with the state government. For instance, in 2015, there was even an agreement between the union and the state government but unfortunately, the state government reneged on that agreement.
“The governor had once invited the EXCO of the branch and mandated them to go to other states in the Southeast and other neighbouring states to get samples of what they earn as salaries, which they have done.”
The National Organising Secretary of the Union, Chinedu Eze, expressed worry over the presence of strange faces within the premises of the Judiciary Headquarters, Abakaliki, which according to him had been locked by the workers.
Reacting, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Cletus Ophoke, said a strike at a time the state and entire country are fighting the deadly Covid-19 pandemic and its attendant economic recession is ill-advised.
“The Secretary to the State Government and myself met with them several times and appealed to them that even if there must be a wage increase, it shouldn’t be at this time when we are battling to see if the economy will improve.
“Don’t forget that the state government is paying workers salary as at when due on or before the 15th of every month.
“So we appealed to them to be patient. But we are surprised to see them commence the strike action today because we thought we had an agreement with them.
“I appeal to them to sheathe their swords and embrace peace at this critical moment. They should reconsider their stand and suspend the strike for the interest of the state,” Mr Ophoke said.
THE EASTERN UPDATES