File photo: African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Legal Aid South Africa lawyers took to the streets again on Monday leaving many people depending on them without legal representation, the second time they have done so this year.

In May, the lawyers - some clad in academic gowns - protested outside their Braamfontein, Johannesburg offices, complaining about alleged unfair treatment at work. 

They also claimed they had been victimised for raising concerns regarding salaries and working conditions.

Legal Aid South Africa spokesperson Mfanafuthi Shabangu said it was not clear just how long this latest strike would last.

However, they would engage with the employees and try to get a resolution by Wednesday, he said.

Shabangu said the primary issues of the dispute revolves around the reduction of a limited number of employee benefits as a result of the severe budget shortfalls that Legal Aid SA has experienced over the last few years. 

"The reduction in these benefits, such as the rightsizing of our Group Life Scheme, was done as a last resort in order to avoid retrenchment of staff," he stated.

“We wish to inform the public that due to the extent that this strike will be supported by our lawyers, we will regrettably not be able to cover all the courts as per our normal coverage plan. The disruption of many court matters will be an inevitable consequence of this strike action,” he said. 

“Our local management teams will liaise with relevant officials at each court to determine how best we can continue to provide services to priority matters, noting our constrained resources. Walk-in clients are still welcome at Legal Aid SA offices, and will be able to access legal advice,” he added. 

He further added that Legal Aid SA was committed to engaging with its employees in finding a way forward, whilst minimising service disruption to the public.

The Star