Workers disrupt court

*Say Justice Kirby is "executive minded"

In a show of defiance yesterday, some union members staged a walkout of the courtroom while the president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, was delivering judgment.This was a judgment in which the government has appealed Justice Dr Key Dingake's decision that declared unlawful the mass dismissal of essential service employees (ESEs) who had engaged in a strike in 2011.  The action of the workers nearly brought chaos to the traditionally austere atmosphere of the court but members of the Botswana Police Service soon brought the situation under control. Before the judgment was delivered, Mmegi was reliably informed that unionists would walk out en mass if Justice Kirby was the one reading it out. Days earlier, the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions (BOFEPUSU) had released press statements questioning the impartiality of the Justice President.

The union characterised Justice Kirby as "executive minded" when dealing with cases involving the government and unions. The issue of the independence of the judiciary came under sharp relief when controversy followed conclusion of another ESE case heard by Justice Kirby and four other justices of appeal last week. In a unanimous decision read out by Justice Kirby last week, all five justices declared participation of ESEs in the strike unlawful.Before the judgment was delivered yesterday, security was reinforced in anticipation of potential trouble
Before the commotion was quelled yesterday, agitated workers mounted a protest outside court, accusing the Court of Appeal of bias in favour of the government.

Editor's Comment
Women unite for progress

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