Magistrates give JSC 24 days to resolve pay dispute

BULAWAYO - The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has 24 days to address the demands of the Zimbabwe Magistrates Association (ZMA).

Vakai Chikwekwe, the associations president, said it had been agreed at a meeting held in the capital on Saturday that industrial action be put on hold for the time being.

It was a unanimous decision by members from across the country that the industrial action be put on hold for the time being and we give the employer a chance to put their house in order. The truth of the matter is that there is a lot of agitation among the members over the issue of salaries, said Chikwekwe.

The association, which represents magistrates from all courts and their support staff, was last week holding consultative meetings with its members.

Magistrates from Bulawayo and representatives from their counterparts in Matabeleland North and South provinces converged at the Bulawayo Magistrates Courts on Friday last week to discuss their salaries and demand for improved working conditions.

Magistrates and their support staff in major cities and towns last week started a go-slow, which saw courts just remanding cases with no trials taking place.

Chikwekwe said it had been their hope that t remuneration and conditions of service would change this month but most got the shock of their life when they got their February pay slips to find there was no change.

Magistrates are demanding a pay of $600 for trainee magistrates, $1 000 for juniors, $1 500 for senior magistrates, $2 000 for senior provincial magistrates, $2 500 for regional magistrates, $3 000 for senior regional and deputy Chief Magistrate and $3 300 for a Chief Magistrate.

Currently, magistrates earn between $206 and $236 while regional magistrates earn about $300. Local junior chief court interpreters earn between $147 and $163 respectively while a Clerk of Court earns around $156.

The magistrates and their support staff were last year transferred from the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs to the Judicial Service Commission, leaving the Public Service Commission under which the majority of civil servants fall.

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