Court warns firm against contempt

Joseph Jibueze, Deputy News Editor


JUSTICE Rabi Gwandu of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) has warned ENL Consortium Limited of contempt for violating its orders.

She issued the warning while ruling on a motion ex-parte by Lucky Ezeagu, Hope Ogolekwu and Ogbonna Ukpabi, who sued on behalf of about 580 other dockworkers through their counsel, Mr Toluwani Adebiyi.

The judge ordered the defendant to file all necessary information on the claimants’ pension, covering 2006 to 2011, within seven days of the receipt of the order.

Justice Gwandu added that the firm would violate Section 104 of the Pension Reform Act 2014 should it fail to provide the information.

ENL Consortium, which operates Terminal C and D of the Apapa Sea Port in Lagos, employed the dockworkers in 2006.

The claimants said there was a 2008 agreement between the terminal operators and maritime workers that they would be paid N33,000, to be increased by 10 per cent every two years.

The workers accused ENL Consortium refusal to honour the agreement to pay them N33,000 monthly minimum time wage; refusal to implement pension contribution for workers between 2006 and 2011, among others.

But, ENL Consortium allegedly claimed that the dockworkers were not entitled to benefit from the agreement because they were casual workers.

After several protests, the affected dockworkers sued at the NICN in April 2017.

Justice Gwandu, in her verdict, held that under Section 7 of the Labour Act, the claimants could not be categorized as casual workers after working for more than three months.

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But the judge did not grant the dockworkers’ prayer for N33,000 minimum wage, an aspect of the judgment they have vowed to appeal.

Justice Gwandu, in the February 25 verdict, disagreed with ENL Consortium that the claimants were not entitled to a pension because they were not on regular wages.

The judge ordered the defendant to release to the claimants information on their pension and to calculate and pay them within a month of the judgment.

The Campaign For Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) urged ENL Consortium and its co-founder/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Princess Victoria Haastrup to obey the orders.

In a statement by its National Chairperson, Comrade Rufus Olusesan, and National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Chinedu Bosah, the group said: “CDWR demands the immediate payment of five years pension as ordered by the court.

“Where ENL Consortium Ltd and Victoria Haastrup are in continuous violation and contempt, the strictest sanctions should be meted out to them.”