Johannesburg -

Magistrates around the country participated in a stay-away on Tuesday, demanding improved salaries and benefits, the Judicial Officers' Association of South Africa (Joasa) said.

“The two-day strike was for yesterday (Monday) and today,” Joasa president Nazeem Joemath said.

Magistrates embarked on protest action in March. They demanded a single pay structure for the judiciary, which would put their salaries and benefits on the same sliding scale as that of judges.

The Independent Remuneration Commission (IRC) suggested a 5.5-percent pay increase, which Parliament approved.

Joemath said magistrates rejected the increase.

“The IRC should (instead) do a review and then decide (on the increase).”

He said Joasa expected Parliament to reject the IRC's suggestion.

“Nobody is listening (to the magistrates), not even the president,” Joemath said.

Justice spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga could not be immediately reached for comment.

He was quoted by The Times as saying the strike was illegal. - Sapa