The Malawi Judiciary support staff has rejected a proposed salary increment from government and has since demanded between 17 and 35 percent age points more over and above the Capital Hill offer, The Nation has learnt.
A circular we have seen titled ‘Judiciary Support Staff Salary October 2014’ indicates that government proposed a 51 percent increment for the highest paid Judiciary officer at grade P2 and 18 percent for grade M.
The government’s proposal was in line with the ongoing civil service harmonisation of salaries that would have meant that a Judiciary employee who was receiving K151 323 (about $302) at grade PO/CEO would have been at par with a general civil servant at K177 980 (about $355), representing an 18 percent increment.
But the Judiciary has rejected this proposal and demanded 52 percentage points more on grade PO/CEO, which is held by resident magistrates, 34 percentage points more on grade J, 19 percentage points more on grade M and 17 percentage points more for grade N to P.
In grade J to M—where the bulk of the support staff are—the difference between government’s offer and Judiciary demands range between K13 845 (about $27) and K36 139 (about $72).
In a letter addressed to the secretary for the Department of Human Resource Management and Development (DHRMD) dated November 24 2014, Supreme Court judge Lovemore Chikopa, who is chairperson of the Working Committee on the Terms and Conditions of Service of the Judiciary, described the revision as unacceptable.
Wrote Chikopa: “We wish to advise that the salary revision is unacceptable to the Judiciary for being against the law and agreement between central government and Judiciary.
“If we may, the percentages used are incorrect. We have for ease of communication enclosed with this communication what we consider to be the correct revision. This was developed in conjunction with your staff using previously approved and agreed to percentages.”
DHRMD spokesperson Rudo Kayira confirmed that the two sides had reached an impasse in the negotiations.
“It is true that the Judiciary has rejected the proposal, which government has made. We received a letter communicating the same on Monday. As of now, we are not sure what will be the way forward since we just received the letter,” Kayira said.
Meanwhile, there is an impending strike by the judges in solidarity with the Judiciary support staff.
Chikopa and other members of the Working Committee on the Terms and Conditions of Service of the Judiciary held a meeting with Malawi Law Society on day informing them of the status of negotiations with government, MLS treasurer John Suzi-Banda confirmed.
Judiciary support staff are in the third week of their strike demanding that government effect a salary increment as it has done with the mainstream civil service.