Magistrates cautioned on strike threat

2013-03-14 22:34
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Johannesburg - Magistrates must act with caution before deciding to strike, the Law Society of SA (LSSA) said on Thursday.

"There are many legal professionals who are unemployed or under-employed, and who would gladly accept an opportunity to work as magistrates," LSSA co-chairs Krish Govender and Jan Stemmett said in a statement.

"This should be borne in mind before magistrates attempt to engage in so-called industrial action."

Magistrates should use all mechanisms available to them if there was a dispute.

Striking was unacceptable, Govender and Stemmett said.

The judiciary, of which the magistrates were a major part, was an independent arm of government and there were means to resolve disputes.

The LSSA said the respect with which members of the public looked to judicial officers would be undermined if magistrates went on strike.

Magistrates are demanding a single pay structure for the judiciary: one that would have their salaries and benefits put on the same sliding scale as those of judges.

This could see their salaries increase by almost 100%.

The magistracy is at odds with the commission and the president on the issue, and has been trying to force a review of the commission's allocations for the past two years, on the basis that it was not properly consulted.

The Association of Regional Court Magistrates of Southern Africa successfully challenged the commission's 2011 recommendation, and won a court order that the president review his decision to approve it.

That matter has now been taken to the Constitutional Court, and a ruling is expected soon.

The Judicial Officers' Association of SA has threatened to bring lower courts to a standstill from Monday.

Read more on:    lssa  |  judiciary

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