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JUSUN Strike: Law Offices May Downsize, Suspend Salary Payment In Osun

JUSUN Strike: Law Offices May Downsize, Suspend Salary Payment In Osun
  • PublishedMay 8, 2021

By Ismaeel Uthman

There are indications that legal practitioners who have chambers in the State of Osun might lay off their workers or suspend payment of their salaries if the strike action embarked upon by the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) continues for long.
Lawyers in the state have expressed the possibility that if the court is not reopened soonest, workers and some of their colleagues on the payroll of chambers might not be paid again.

According to the lawyers, chambers earn their money through litigations and other legal services which revolve around court, saying that since the court is closed, there is a sharp shortfall in the revenue of the chambers, which might lead to suspension of salary payment for their workers.

Answering questions from OSUN DEFENDER, the Head of Wale Afolabi and Co Chambers, Mr. Tiamiyu Adegboyega, said it is very obvious that the legal practitioners in private practice are directly affected by the strike.

Adegboyega said: “It is very obvious that the legal practitioners in private practice are directly linked to the litigant. When the case of the litigant is not presented, lawyers will not have a pay. In summary, lawyers in private practice are direct victims of this JUSUN strike.

“The workers will be remunerated at the end of the month, strike or no strike, and many others that are directly connected will equally get paid. The government cannot say because JUSUN is on strike that the judges and magistrates will not be paid. They are entitled to their pay.

“But who will pay the lawyers in practice? The answer is simply the litigant that we are directly responsible to. But if you don’t do their work, they will not pay you. And it is when the court is open that lawyers in private practice will be able to do the work of the litigant.

“Unfortunately, lawyers cannot go to farm by now because it is only farming that is compatible with the profession. But we cannot just go to farm now.
Asked whether the chambers will downsize or slash workers’ salaries, Adegboyega said: “Interestingly, the lawyers are matured individuals. They will know that the circumstances on ground dictate the pace.

“So, we will be making whatever little things we have available to the junior lawyers, while the senior ones will dip their hands into the pool they already amassed before the strike.”

Speaking with OSUN DEFENDER in a telephone interview, a legal practitioner, Mr. Johnson Amusan said the ‘suspension of payment of salaries, allowances or stipends to lawyers is imminent because of the JUSUN strike.

Amusan said: “Most lawyers engage in litigations. Some lawyers survive on litigations only. And considering the economic situation of Osun, most people are not willing to patronise lawyers in other areas of law. Apart from that, most people who have cases in courts will not pay lawyers now because the courts are not open. The cases are being delayed and that means justice is being delayed.

“Some people are in detention now, and they will remain there till the strike is over when their lawyers will approach court. The essence of our profession as lawyers is to ensure that justice is done.

“It is not impossible for chambers to downsize because money is not coming in. Our workplace is the court which has been shut. In fact, some chambers are already downsizing, in spite of the fact that what some of them are paying to the lawyers is not something to write home about.

“Everything boils down to the fact that Nigeria’s economy is in poor state. Most lawyers who have chambers are incapacitated. They are also struggling to survive and it is difficult for them to pay salaries to their junior colleagues. And now that the courts are closed, how would they get money to pay?

“If the strike continues, some of the chambers that are struggling to pay their workers may possibly downsize.”
Barr. Kayode Afolabi, who owns a chamber in Osogbo, said the income of the law offices across the state has been suspended because of the JUSUN strike.

According to him, if the chambers did not sack lawyers and other workers under it, they might not be able to receive their salaries as and when due because the courts which are their work place have been shut.

He said: “In his view, a lawyer, it is going to affect their income because they will not be able to file anything in court. And when the courts are not opened, the clients will not pay you. Most of our people are litigation. lawyers. Only few are into property law because of the nature of the state.

“If the strike continues, the chambers will find it difficult to pay the lawyers and other workers they engaged. And if it is difficult to sack the workers, they might fall victims of non-payment of salaries for months because the chambers are not making money.”

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