Sep 20, 2013, 11:20 AM
Twenty-eight former employees of the Atlantic Sea Food Company have sued their former employer at the Industrial Tribunal for unlawful termination of their services, claiming over D25 million.
The statement of claim stated that they brought their former employer to the tribunal for the recovery of the sum of D25, 755, 627 due to them for unlawful termination.
Interest of 25 percent and costs had also been claimed by the plaintiffs.
According to the particulars of their claim, the plaintiffs were at all material times fish processors for the company.
They claimed that, on 2 May 2007, they were sent for annual leave for two weeks, according to management in letters given to the employees, in order to revive the manpower, equipment, financing and the organizational structure with a view to making the company more effective and responsive to the demands of their customers.
The plaintiffs further claimed that their annual leave was extended on 10 June 2007, with full salary and were to resume on Monday 11 June 2007, and were also told by the management to report to the company on 6 August 2007, at the end of the renovation, to receive their salaries.
They claimed that they reported for work, and found a list of their names at the company’s gate, stating that they were not allowed to enter the work place unless they consulted the manager.
Their claim also indicated that the matter was reported to a unionist, Pa Modou Faal, who wrote a letter dated 11 September 2007, to the Labour Commissioner to convene a tripartite meeting scheduled for the 23 January 2008, but management failed to attend the meeting.
The plaintiffs claimed that there was no valid reason for their dismissal.
Lawyer Musa Bittaye, who represented the defendant, rose and told the tribunal that he had a preliminary objection.
He stated that it was his humble submission that the claim was incompetent and seriously out of time.
He referred the tribunal to rules which relate to its work under the laws of The Gambia.
He said that, for instance, the sum of money each person was claiming was not known, and how each claimant was making the claim.
He submitted that the claim be made so that the defendant would know what was claimed against them.
He argued further that the plaintiffs had claimed for unlawful termination, adding that such action shall be brought within six months of the date of dismissal.
He urged the tribunal to dismiss the case, which was adjourned to 25 October 2011, for the plaintiffs to reply.