Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor slightly differed yesterday with judges who were protesting against the government’s persistent failure to make some increments on their salaries and other benefits, including allowances.
The disagreement came when Judge Yarmie Q. Gbeisay of Criminal Court ‘C’, who was designated to speak at the formal opening of the November 2016 Term of Criminal Courts, A, B, C and D at the Temple of Justice, made the utterance about their frustration over the matter.
To the dismay of Chief Justice Korkpor, Judge Gbeisay accused the government of not doing enough to cater to the wellbeing of judges in the country.
Chief Justice Korkpor, reacting to the judge’s concern, noted, “You can’t ask for salary increment when you are underperforming. Any pay raise would be commensurate with your performance, and you have to merit that increment.”
The Chief Justice, however, did not name the underperforming judges.
But, according to Judge Gbeisay, judges in the country who possess a minimum of a two-year academic degree, as well as two years of experience, earned about one third of what members of the Legislature reportedly earn as allowances.
“Judges also earn about two thirds of what a cabinet minister reportedly earns as allowances,” the Criminal Court ‘C’ judge said.
“Worst of all,” Gbeisay added, “there is no standard pension plan for judges. So judges that have reached retirement age of 70 normally get a take home pension salary of less than US$100 per month.”
Although Justice Korkpor partly agreed with Judge Gbeisay, he said his administration has made significant improvements.
Since he assumed his Chief Justice post, he said he has worked steadily to improve the living conditions of both judges and all judicial workers.
“Your salaries were very low when I took over as Chief Justice and I don’t want to call figures, but you know what I have done with your salaries,” Justice Korkpor indicated.
He disclosed that the government was considering increasing the salaries of judicial workers, including judges.
“But there should be a corresponding attitude of commitment to work, passion for the profession so that whenever you benefit, there should be improvement in your performance,” he said.