Europe / Middle East / Africa
Former employees sue Dangote Cement
May, 25 2012
(Ghana) -- Over 300 former employees have filed a suit against the Apapa branch of Dangote Cement Plc before the National Industrial Court (NIC), requesting it to set aside a handbook purportedly put together by the company.
The company’s Human Resources/Administrative Manager, Kefas Zakka, was sued alongside the company.
According to the claimants in the statement of claim filed by their lawyer, S. W. Baidi, the handbook was hurriedly and unilaterally composed by the company during the pendency of suit No- ID/581/2010, to short change and underpay them in the course of the closing down of the company.
At the resumed hearing of the suit on Wednesday, counsel to the claimants, Baidi told the court that the Apapa branch of Dangote Cement had been closed down and the staff laid off despite assurance by the defence counsel that such an incident would not occur.
Baidi, addressing the issue of jurisdiction raised by the court, said the combined effect of Sections 254 C (1) (a) and 24 C (3) of the Constitution vested on the National Industrial Court exclusive jurisdiction to preside on issues relating to labour, employment, trade unions and industrial relations and matters arising from workplace.
He argued that where any statutory provision is in conflict with the constitution, the constitution would prevail as its supremacy cannot be waived.
However, the defence counsel, Nonso Ottih, argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to preside over the case. He said the claimants failed to present their case before the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) before bringing it to court.
He urged the court to decline jurisdiction and strike out the case.
The claimants are asking the court to compel the company to appoint an independent financial expert to take over the preparation of a fresh and acceptable handbook in order to make an unbiased assessment of their salaries, gratuities, benefits and other entitlements.
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