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Gambia Electrical loses in wrongful termination claim

Nov 5, 2010, 12:37 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

Senior Magistrate Hilary U. Abeke, chairman of the Kanifing Industrial Tribunal, recently delivered a judgment in favour of one Ello Bah, plaintiff against his former employer, Gambia Electrical Company, for wrongful termination of his service.

Ello Bah, the plaintiff, claimed from the defendant, Gambia Electrical Company Ltd, D4,021.55, being half salary arrears for four months for wrongful termination of his service, and costs.

In delivering a marathon judgment, Magistrate Abeke stated that the purported dismissal letter dated 14th August 2010, addressed to the plaintiff, Mr. Ello Bah, terminating his service by the defendant company, was null and void and of no effect, as the said dismissal letter disclosed no offence or misconduct by the plaintiff.

"By the above court declaration, the plaintiff is still in full employment with the defendant’s company," Abeke stated.

The defendant, he added, was ordered to apply or follow the due process as required by the Labour Law to terminate the plaintiff's employment, and to pay in full all his entitlements due.

Abeke also ordered the defendant to pay D4,021.55 being half salary for four months.

He referred to the Gambia Court of Appeal's decision in the case of Singam Investment Co. versus NH Farago Co Ltd and Anar (2002-2008) Gambia Law report Vol. 1 at 68-102 delivered by Justice E.A. Agim, as he then was.

Abeke further stated in his judgment that for subjecting the plaintiff to police torture, harassment and false imprisonment over unfounded allegations and wrongful dismissal, the tribunal awarded damages of D250,000 in favour of the plaintiff and also awarded costs to be accessed at D10,000 in favour of the plaintiff.

He said the tribunal, having noticed in the court file that there was an affidavit of service certifying that the defendant was duly served with the summons, decided to allow another opportunity for the defendant to attend court.

"The defendant was warned that if on the next adjourned date he failed to show up, the tribunal shall exercise no further option than to allow the plaintiff proceed to state his case and proceed to make award accordingly," Abeke revealed.

He said the matter was adjourned and the defendant failed to appear in court, adducing that the tribunal by section 12 of the amended Industrial Rules 2010, proceeded and urged the plaintiff to state his case.

After hearing from the plaintiff, Abeke added, the tribunal deemed it necessary to hold that the plaintiff’s employment with the defendant was wrongfully terminated and his due entitlement was not given to him as provided under the Labour Act.

He further stated that the plaintiff was not given notice prior to his purported dismissal, and no concrete reason in law was given for the purported dismissal of the plaintiff.

The defendant was subsequently ordered to pay to the plaintiff a total sum of D264,021.55.

Magistrate Abeke has delivered five industrial judgements since he moved to the Kanifing Magistrates' Court less than two months ago.