Court Interpreters Strike After Pay Rise Delayed by Computer Virus

According to South African media reports, court interpreters across the country have gone on strike after failing to receive promised salary increases. The Justice Department has blamed a computer virus for the delay.

The pay dispute between the interpreters and the Justice Department has been rumbling for some months. Success Mataitsane, general secretary of the National Union of Public Servants and and Allied Workers, has claimed that the department agreed to upgrade salaries from 1 July, but because they have not been forthcoming, workers have gone on national strike.

Charles Shelembe of the KwaZulu-Natal committee of interpreters said that the Justice Department had sent workers three letters telling them about salary increases, but that no money had been forthcoming.

Heinrich Augustyn of the Justice Department was reported to have claimed that the W32/Blaster-A worm had caused the delay. According to Augustyn the virus is being dealt with, and interpreters should receive their pay rises on or before 15 October.

“Computer viruses can disrupt regular company operations such as email, payroll and finances. In this case we’re seeing the knock-on effects – justice itself is being held up by a virus throwing a spanner into the works,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. “All organisations need to practise safe computing to ensure they are minimising the threat of attack by computer virus.”

A number of court cases in South Africa have been adjourned as a result of the industrial action.

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