‘Time ticking on strike notice’
By ANDREW FANASIA
THE Government Lawyers Association (GLA) says the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs Ethel Sigimanu had out rightly lied and misled the Public Account Committee (PAC) last week.
Mrs Sigimanu was responding to a question asked by the Opposition Leader and PAC member Manasseh Maelanga regarding the terms and condition of the government lawyers if provided for in the 2019 National Budget.
According to the Mrs Sigimanu the government and GLA have reached an understanding with an MOU to be signed between the two parties soon.
But GLA spokesperson confirmed to the Solomon Star on Tuesday that this is untruthful.
“We have not come to an understanding with an MOU to be signed.
“That is not true – unless we receive an official response that is anything different from what we already received,” the spokesperson told this paper in an interview yesterday.
Mrs Sigimanu also told the PAC housing allowance as part of GLA’s claims the government has to increase their rental waiver to a 100 percent at the discretion of the PS.
But the spokesperson clarified that the housing is no different from what was already in the previous agreement.
“Which the Ministry can give a 100% waiver and the waiver is dependent on factors such as security and so forth.
“It is not a new provision it was already in the old agreement,” GLA spokesperson clarified.
The spokesperson further added that this issues should be brought to light otherwise the public will not understand what is happening and why they are insisting that the Government reconsider the terms and conditions of service.
“And we need to make it clear to the public that the Ministry is not telling the truth before the PAC and also to the public there is no agreement reached and the strike notice has not been withdrawn,” the spokesperson affirmed.
This paper was told that there are cases where lawyers have been put in danger there are so many security risks that come with this job, but nothing in terms of financial compensation from SIG.
“Last week one government lawyer was assaulted by an accused/suspect because he is a prosecutor.
“This is just one of the many security risks faced by the government lawyers every year, but no financial incentive to address this,” this paper was told.
The Ministry has called for dialogue but there has been no dialogue on their (Ministry) part.
“And we also would like to highlight the ministry’s failure in taking a proactive role in addressing issues for justice.
“We have really tried to dialogue with the government over many years and actually they have failed their obligation and breach the agreement we can sue on the agreement but we chose not to.
“We’d like to also make it clear that they have until 4th December 2018 when the strike notice will lapse,” the spokesperson told this paper.
The spokesperson also added that they have dragged their feet over the years and especially since February this year.
“We perform the work and we are the engine room, without the engine room the ship will not move.
“The Ministry only deals with lawyers as professionals no other professional cadres so it should not be very hard for government to address these issues yet it had proven very difficult for them,” the GLA spokesperson said.
Several attempts to speak to the Ethel Sigimanu on this issue was unsuccessful since Monday and yesterday.