Unity Bank Loses Case Against Former Employee

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A former employee of Unity Bank Plc, Mr Moses Mina, has floored his former employers at the National Industrial Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Justice Polycarp Hamman of the Port Harcourt Judicial division of the industrial court declared in his ruling that the summary dismissal of the claimant from service of the Unity Bank was wrongful and not in line with the terms of his employment.

The judge, which awarded the sum of 200,000 in favour of Mr Mina, further held that having not embedded the collective agreement into the terms of the contract, same was not binding on the parties and the bank was wrong to have relied on same to summarily dismiss him from service.

From facts, the claimant informed the court that he was given letter of suspension from duty on June 12, 2009, and while serving the suspension, he received the letter of summary dismissal dated September 8, 2009.

He further claimed that these disciplinary actions were on the bases of allegation against him and the FT Officer due to the ‘exception on a foreign exchange’.

According to him, himself and the FT Officer appeared before a panel and were informed that the panel was only interested in the alleged threat to the IC Officer, which was not stated in the letter of suspension and no evidence of the said telephone conversation was given.

The claimant argued that the Collective Agreement referred to in the letter of summary dismissal was not contained in the handbook and therefore, not part of the terms of his employment, urging the court to grant reliefs sought.

However, the defendant submitted that all disciplinary and fair opportunities were given to the claimant before his suspension and subsequent dismissal from service.

It also argued that the dismissal was in accordance with the Employee’s Handbook and the Collective Agreement and all the procedural requirements were adhered to before his dismissal from service.

It further stated that the suit, which was filed on September 3, 2015, was not commenced within the period of limitation law of Rivers State, praying that the court should decline jurisdiction and to dismiss the instant suit in its entirety for want of proof.

In reply, counsel to the claimant argued that the cause of action arose in Benin City, Edo State, and not Rivers State, and that the Limitation Law of Rivers State does not apply to the instant suit, urging the court to dismiss the bank’s submission.

Delivering his judgment, the trial judge held that the cause of action occurred in Benin City, Edo State, and that the Rivers State Limitation Law does not apply in the circumstances of the case and the Limitation Law of Edo State, which provides for six years within which to commence an action and that the matter was filed within the limitation period.

“The position of the law regarding the enforceability of collective agreements have been numerously stated in a legion of cases in this country, and it is the law that for such an agreement to bind an employee, it must be incorporated either expressly or impliedly into the employee’s contract of employment.

“I have gone through the letter of appointment issued to the claimant by Unity Bank Plc (the offer of appointment issued to the claimant by Bank of the North Limited and the Employee Handbook), and found out that none of these exhibits made reference either expressly or impliedly to the provisions of any collective agreement as forming part of the terms of the claimant’s contract with the defendant.

“I, therefore, hold that having not embedded the collective agreement into the terms of the claimant’s contract, same was not binding on the parties and the defendant was wrong to have relied on same to summarily dismiss the claimant from service. I so find and hold,” Justice Hamman ruled.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

more recommended stories

%d bloggers like this: