Industrial Court orders firm to pay Staff N679k within 1-Month

The Presiding Judge, Yenagoa Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Polycarp Hamman has ordered Zan Ltd to pay Mr Peter Eleonu the sum of N339,800.00 as his arrears of salaries for the months of July to October 2018, and N90, 000.00 as one month salary in lieu of notice and N250, 000.00 as general damages within one month.

The Court also ordered Zan Ltd to remit to Mr Peter’s contributory pension for July to October 2018, and ordered the Stanbic Ibtc Pension Managers Limited to pay Mr Peter the sum of N323,080.09 as his total pension contributions.

From facts, the claimant- Mr. Peter Eleonu had submitted that his appointment was terminated on the 1st of November, 2018 without being given the requisite notice or payment in lieu, and despite his demands for the payment of his salaries and the remittance of the pension contributions for the months of July, August, September and October 2018 into his Pension Fund Account, the company has refused to accede to his demands.

In defence, Zan Ltd stated that Mr. Peter’s appointment was never terminated, he was rather put on a stand down to resume duty immediately the business of the company improved and the outstanding salaries for the months of July to October 2018 are ready for payment if Mr Peter resumes work as agreed by both parties.

The company further stated that Mr Peter was not the only staff placed on redundancy and that the company still considers him as its employee, urged the court to dismiss the case.

In opposition, Mr. Peter’s Counsel, N. I. Ogoko Esq argued that the title of the redundancy letter leaves no one in doubt that Zan Ltd had brought the contract of his client to an end, urged the Court to give a holistic interpretation and grant the reliefs sought.

Delivering judgement, the presiding Judge, Justice Polycarp Hamman held that Zan Ltd having admitted owing Mr Peter Eleonu arrears of salaries for the months of July, August, September and October 2018 amounting to the sum of N339,800.00, Mr Peter is entitled to the said amount.

“While I have seen that by exhibit DW1G and CW1B, the Claimant was merely placed on a stand down due to the economic challenge faced by the 1st defendant, I do not, however, think that to place someone on a stand by or stand down without salary from 31st October 2018 to date (a period of over 5 years) is reasonable in the circumstance. This is a clear instance of an unfair labour practice which this Honourable Court cannot tolerate in the world of work. Having not recalled the Claimant even while the suit is pending in Court, I hold that the claimant is entitled to the relief which is hereby granted.” Justice Hamman ruled.