CHIEF Justice Sir Albert Palmer is reiterating his call for the set-up of an independent Government Remuneration body to determine Judges and Magistrates level of salaries and remuneration packages.
Sir Albert repeated this call in his remarks at the opening of the 2021 Legal Year on Tuesday at the High Court.
“I have also pointed out that such body can be tasked with the responsibility to deal with remuneration packages of other Constitutional Post Holders and the Public Service,” Sir Albert said.
He added that the ongoing saga of trade disputes every 2 or 3 years or so between the Government, Nurses, and Government Lawyers Association, etc. would be better handled with an independent commission or authority, set up by law to determine salary levels and remuneration packages for those in Government including Provincial Government.
“The current set up for negotiations is unsatisfactory and unfair; it is high time this neglect is rectified.”
Meanwhile, the President of the Solomon Islands Bar Association (SIBA) Eran Soma said it is disappointing that the dilemma regarding the Government Lawyers Association (GLA), the scheme of service has reached the third year anniversary unsettled.
“I reiterate that the government agencies cannot afford to lose experienced lawyers shifting to private or other areas of practice,” Soma said.
He said in order to stop this ever-growing trend; the issue must be resolved sooner rather than later.
“The rule of law and access to justice cannot be achieved without proper staffing of our government agencies like the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) and Public Solicitor’s Office (PSO).
“My committee is willing to assist in mediation between parties if deemed, “he added.
He further added that more importantly the GLA, Scheme of Service should only be an interim solution.
He said the long-term solution must be a Government Remuneration Tribunal model, an example in neighbouring Vanuatu, which is inclusive of Judges, Magistrates, and Lawyers of government.
“I kindly urge the government to consider such structure for the advancement of our lawyers.”
Attorney General (AG) John Muria Jnr said the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs will continue to work with all stakeholders in resolving the GLA issue.
“The Ministry appreciates the work that its lawyers have performed over the years, and will continue to perform in the coming years,” Muria said.
“It is the desire of the Ministry that all parties will come to an agreement on the remaining two issues (Convenience allowance and backdating).
“The Ministry will continue to pursue funding support for the justice precinct, a project that is projected to house all agencies of the Ministry in one location and close to the vicinity of the High Court.”
Muria also expressed their gratitude to the Government through the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs for their continued support to the Justice Sector.
By ASSUMPTA BONGIDANI