Firm faces contempt of court for allegedly disobeying orders
The ENL Consortium Limited and its directors would have to do a lot of explanations before the National Industrial Court (NIC), Lagos, November 18 for allegedly disobeying its order to calculate and pay Dockworkers their pension between 2006 and 2011 within seven days.
The seven days window expired last Friday and counsel to the workers, Mr. Toluwani Adebiyi, insisted that the order was not complied with.
The order of court followed an ex-parte motion filed and argued by Adebiyi, who prayed the court to compel the judgment debtors to pay the judgment creditors, having lost their bid to launch an appeal against the NIC decision on the matter.
Justice R.H Gwandu had held that the court shall hold the defendant as being contemptuous of the orders of the court and would face the full wrath of the law if it fails to comply with the order since it does not have any valid appeal or notice of appeal to forestall his decision.
“The defendant should file before the court, the full calculation and all necessary information of all the claimants in this suit no NICN/LA/257/2017 of their pensions for the period covering 2006 to 2011, within 7 days after the receipt and service of this court order on the defendant, failure of which they would have committed an offence before the law contrary to section 104 of the Pension Reform Act, 2014,” the judge declared and adjourned to November 18, 2020.
The claimants, Mr. Ezeagu Lucky, Ogolekwu Hope, and Ukpai Ogbonna had filed the action representing 580 other dockworkers against the firm, which has been operating Terminal C and D of the Apapa Sea Port in Lagos since 2005 after the Port was handed over to private companies in 2005.
The dockworkers were employed in 2006 and there was an industry-wide Joint negotiation and agreement between the terminal operators, represented by Private Operators of Seaports Terminals Association (POSTA) and Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria on May 8, 2008.
This agreement amongst others agreed to a minimum time wage of N33, 000 and to be increased by 10 per cent every two years. Subsequently, POSTA metamorphosed into the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN).
But the management of ENL Consortium Limited responded that dockworkers were not entitled to draw benefit from the agreement because they are casual dockworkers and not permanently employed.
The workers approached the NIC for adjudication and got a judgment against the firm. Instead of complying with the decision, the firm filed an appeal without the leave of the court.
Consequently, the court of appeal dismissed the firm’s appeal, paving way for the claimants to return to the NIC for the enforcement of the judgment against the judgment debtor, since the obstacle, which its appeal represents is no more.