Following several weeks of failed negotiations with authorities at the Judicial branch of government in demand of the Liberian dollars component of their salaries allegedly cut, aggrieved judicial workers protested at the Temple of Justice Friday, 8 October, disgracefully chanting Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor’s name and urging him to return their money.
In a rather humiliating way, some of the protesters held placards as others used empty gallons as drums to cause stirs outside the courts, chanting repeatedly: “Bring our money back, Chief Justice bring our money back; Bring our money back, Francis Korkpor bring our money back.”
The protesters in what seems an intentional effort to disrupt a graduation program, sounded loud battle cry and beat drums outside the court over the weekend when the Judiciary was graduating its new batch of professional magistrates who have just completed their training. Riot police were deployed at the protest scene Friday to help to put things under control.
Some lied on the floor in the open as part of their protest, and the judicial workers have vowed to stage another protest this Monday, 12 October to disrupt the opening of the Supreme Court.
It remains unclear why the judicial staffers keep targeting Chief Justice Francis S. Korpor in their protests against cuts in their salaries, despite the Judiciary issuing a clarity in September informing the aggrieved employees that the cuts in salaries were not done by the Judiciary and that the cuts affected all employees in the government sector.
“The Judiciary takes note of the appearance of the Minister of Finance & Development Planning, Hon. Samuel D. Tweah on Radio Okay FM on Tuesday, September 15, 2020, at which time he expressed Government’s concern of the impact of the harmonization program on civil servants and committed that the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning was doing everything possible to address the issue,” the Judiciary said last month.
According to the Judiciary, when the matter was first raised with the Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, he set up a committee to listen to the concerns of the employees with the view of providing appropriate explanations.
It indicated that despite these efforts being made by both the Judiciary and authorities at the Ministry of Finance and the Civil Service Agency, some employees of the Judiciary continue to stage sporadic protests, particularly targeting the Chief Justice and disrupting court proceedings.
Meanwhile the aggrieved staffers have repeatedly threatened to disrupt the opening of the Supreme Court which is due today, Monday, 12 October.
This event usually attracts officials of Liberia’s highest offices from the President to the Speaker, the Pro – tempore of the Liberian Senate, the members of the diplomatic community and other invitees.
Security is usually intact at this event, especially when the president shows up. But with weeks of court staffers’ persistent protests and threats to disrupt the court’s opening, it remains to be seen how things turn out at the Temple of Justice on Monday.
Their protest over the weekend, disgracefully calling the chief justice all sorts of names could only suggest that their demand which they set as precondition that must be met before aborting their protest is yet to be addressed by the authorities.
Earlier on 10 September, the protesters sat in chairs in a circle at the chief justice’s car parking area at the Temple of Justice to conduct a meeting in the open which was followed by a peaceful march and chanting of slogans against the Chief Justice.
The angry judicial staffers intentionally occupied the spot to deny Chief Justice Korkpor access to the space he usually parks his car while they held a meeting regarding an alleged unpaid Liberian dollar component of their salaries.
Since then, they have held protests on different dates and they have had other judicial authorities come out to try to intervene, but it seems that the both parties have not come to one agreement yet.
By Winston W. Parley