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Gambia Teachers’ Union sued

Mar 4, 2013, 10:15 AM | Article By: Dawda Faye

The Gambia Teachers’ Union was on 27 February 2013 sued at the Kanifing Industrial Tribunal by one Karamo Sanneh.

The plaintiff, Karamo Sanneh, is claiming damages in the sum of D665,011.32 for unjustified, unfair and unlawful termination of his employment by the defendant.

Mr Sanneh also claimed general damages for breach of contract, social security contribution payable by the defendant to Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation for his benefit, interest, and cost.

According to the particulars of claim, the plaintiff was an employee of the defendant.

Sanneh stated in his claim that by a letter dated 19 August 2006, he was offered employment by the defendant as a Security Guard, which he accepted, adding that the offer was subject to him serving a 6-month probationary period and upon successful completion of his probation, his employment would be confirmed.

The claim indicated that by a letter dated 20 March 2007, the defendant confirmed his appointment which confirmation took effect on 1 March 2007.

Sanneh continued to claim that his contract of employment incorporated some of the conditions of his employment whilst other terms and conditions not expressed in the letter of offer were made applicable by the Labour Act.

The plaintiff was advised in his letter of appointment that he should acquaint himself with GTU Service Rules and Terms of Reference of his job which were both available at the office of the Deputy Secretary General of the Gambia Teachers’ Union.

Sanneh adduced in his claim that the said GTU Service Rules and Terms of Reference were never given to him throughout his period of service in spite of persistent demand by him for the same both verbally and in writing.

The plaintiff indicated that his incessant demand for these instruments annoyed some of the defendant’s senior officials and he was suspended from duty on 30 July 2008, on trumped-up allegations, adding that these allegations had been addressed in 2008 and the plaintiff punished with suspension without pay.

Sanneh further claimed that some time in June 2009, one Pa Daniel Mendy, the defendant’s Programme Officer, prepared a roster for security guards working for the defendant, stating that the roster arbitrarily increased the workload of the guards.

The guards, according to him, worked for 12 consecutive hours every day without a single off-day, adding that he wrote on his own behalf and on behalf of his colleagues to complain to the defendant’s Deputy Secretary General and the defendant’s Secretary General on 4 August 2009, and 18 September 2009, respectively.

The plaintiff claimed that this effort only landed him in deeper trouble with the defendant who completely ignored both letters.

Instead of acceding to the request, claimed the plaintiff, the defendant’s response was to suspend him indefinitely without pay, adding that upon intervention by his solicitor, Moses B. Johnson Richards, who emphasised the illegality of the suspension, he was reinstated and his salaries for the months of April and May 2012 paid.

Sanneh said in his claim that on 6 November 2012, he wrote to the Acting Commissioner, Department of Labour, detailing the unfair treatment meted out to him by the defendant, which the defendant was not prepared to redress.

The plaintiff further claimed that on 13 November 2012, he received a hearing notice from the defendant concerning the desirability or otherwise of his continued services with the defendant.

Sanneh contended that most of the issues raised in the hearing notice were issues earlier dealt with in 2008 and for which the plaintiff had been punished with suspension without pay, adding that the defendant falsely accused him of incurring 40 per cent of the total cost of the entire office telephone bills according to a Gamtel printout but the defendant failed or refused to show the said printout to him.

The plaintiff further stated that the defendant falsely alleged that he refused instructions to work on a particular Wednesday although the date of the Wednesday was never disclosed.

According to Sanneh, the defendant alleged that he was involved in a bitter quarrel with a driver in the presence of the Programme Officers, adding that it was the driver that caused the quarrel by accusing him of stealing a tarpaulin, which was false, provocative and degrading accusation.

He stated further in the claim that the driver insulted him but the driver was never queried by the defendant.

Sanneh would not relent continuing to claim that the defendant accused him of absenting himself from duty on Saturday 28 June 2008, and Thursday 24 July without reasons whereas the defendant’s security gate register showed that he was not only present on both days but made entries in the register on the said days.

The plaintiff posited that the defendant accused him further of deliberately refusing to report to work on Tobaski Day Friday 28 October 2012, and on Sunday 4 and Monday 5 November 2012, adding that his health broke down as a result of the harsh working conditions at the Security Unit.

Sanneh stated in his claim that when he could not reach the defendant by phone, he passed by the security and made entries in the gate diary to the effect that he was sick, and that he was eventually treated at the Serrekunda Hospital at Kanifing and he obtained an Excuse of Duty paper which he showed to the defendant.

Nevertheless, Sanneh claimed, the defendant terminated his appointment by a letter dated 14 December 2012, based on the recycling false allegations, adding that he was born on 10 February 1970, and was at the time of his termination 42 years old, and that his salary was D3,078.77.

The plaintiff further claimed that his contract of employment was for an indefinite period, up to the retirement age of 60 years and his projected salary to that age amounts to D665,011.32, calculated as follows: D3,078.77 x 18 years x 12 months.

Sanneh concluded his claim by stating that it was a term of his appointment that he will be registered with the SSHFC and will be required to contribute 5 per cent of his basic salary towards the Provident Fund Scheme while the defendant will contribute 10 per cent to that effect, adding that his benefit is yet to be paid.

Lawyer Akimbo threw his weight behind the plaintiff.

The case was adjourned till 13 March 2013.