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Striking State Attorneys ‘fight’ AG over ‘lay-off threat’

Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, Attorney General
Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, Attorney General

It seems Ghana’s State Attorneys are bent on having their demands of better conditions of service met before they return to work.

The Association of State Attorneys declared a strike in October 2016, in protest of government’s failure to meet its demand for improved conditions of service. Several efforts to get them to return to work have proved futile.

However, a letter from the outfit of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, and signed by the Chief Director of the Ministry, Suleman Ahmed, described the strike as illegal and further threatened the State Attorneys to return to work by Tuesday, January  3, 2017, or be “considered as having vacated post.”

Provoked by the threat, the Association of State Attorneys have also issued a counter statement stressing that their strike is legal.

The statement signed by its president, Francisca Tete-Mensah said:

“It goes without saying that the Minister for Justice and Attorney-General and the Legal Service Board, to which she is a chairperson, have been perpetuating an illegality against State Attorneys with the non-payment of pension to same. It is the most unpardonable illegal act of labour practice. Furthermore, notwithstanding, its unwillingness to meet with the Association in order to discuss the way forward for a sustainable Pension scheme and other conditions of service for State Attorneys, will the board now threaten state attorney with relieving us of our positions under the current predicament that we have found ourselves? This is unfair labour practice indeed!”

“Please take notice and notice is hereby given that for the avoidance of doubt, members of the association of State Attorneys have embarked upon legal strike pursuant to statutory notice under Section 159 (b) of Act 651. Furthermore, on the strength of section 169 (1) and (2) of Act 6521, ‘any termination of the contract as a result of the lawful strike or lockout is void.’ Again, no civil proceedings shall be brought against any worker, employer, trade union or employer’s organization or a member of such trade union or employer’s organization in respect of any lawful strike or lockout action taken in conformity with the provisions of this Act.”

In a separate interview on the Point Blank segment on Eyewitness News, the President of the Association further said the Ministry misused the term “vacation of post” in its threat.

“Vacation of post has some ingredients; the ingredient is that the workers whereabouts should not be known and the worker has refused to come to the office. In our case the strike is based on the labour Act where the Act allows us to go on legal strike. The ingredient of legal strike is that there should be a seven day notice to the Labour Commission and the parties. We have fulfilled this statutory requirement for which our strike is legal. We have been on strike for two months and within this period we have received our salary. It is so because we have embarked on a legal strike.”

State Attorneys blame Labour Commission

She further blamed the National Labour Commission for the impasse explaining that the Commission should have gone to the High Court to compel government to improve their conditions of service.

“The Labour commission has shirked its responsibility of doing that, that is why we are suffering now. If the Labour commission had stood up to the test and instructed the legal service board to grant us our pension and conditions of service, it wouldn’t have brought us this far.”

State Attorneys fire back; AG can’t withhold salaries 

The State Attorneys had earlier fought the AG over threat to withhold their salaries due to the strike.

They threatened to sue the AG if she dared execute such move.

By: Godwin A. Allotey/citifmonline.com/Ghana