Unpaid salaries: Court awards N3m against G. Cappa

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For terminating the employment of Victor Sakote without paying what was due to him vide salaries, a National Industrial Court sitting in Lagos has awarded a total of Three Million and Seventy Thousand Naira (N3, 070, 000.00) only against G. Cappa Plc being the ex-staffer’s entitlements.

Delivering judgment in the suit with number NICN/LA/10/2018, Justice Elizabeth A. Oji (PhD) held that the failure of G. Cappa Plc to enter appearance and lead evidence to contradict the position of the claimant – Victor Sakote – despite being served, leaves the court with no option but to believe the claim of the claimant.

Mr. Sakote had in 2018 dragged the building and civil engineering construction company before the court claiming that his appointment was unceremoniously terminated sometime in November 2013, after putting in 20 years of service. He further stated that the termination came following an accident he was involved in on 4th of April, 2012 in the course of performing his official duties as assigned by the management of G. Cappa.

Mr. Sakote who also served as Assistant General Secretary of National Union of Civil Engineering Construction Furniture and Wood Workers (NUCECFWW), G. Cappa branch, said he sustained serious injuries including first degree fracture which led to his admission in hospital for nine months and was subsequently discharged on the 12th of December, 2012. He further said that he incurred the sum of N350, 000.00 cost in buying drugs and medical bills.

He said he was however surprised when in November 2013, management decided to open salary accounts for employees in the Electrical Maintenance department and his name was omitted. After several complaints and inquiries, he was informed that his services were no longer required and that the accounts department would get back to him. He said before this time, he was owned 41 months’ salary arrears totaling Two million, One Hundred and Thirty two Thousand Naira (N2, 132, 000.00) only. He also prayed for interest on the said sum at the prevailing commercial bank; an order for the payment of his Long Service Awards, among others.

Justice Oji in her judgment held that it was unfair labour best practices not to have been paid his entitlements. On the issue of Long Service Award, the judge ordered G. Cappa to give and to pay to Mr. Sakote 21 “inches colour television or the sum of Forty-Eight Thousand Naira (N48, 000.00) only. Another 26 “inches colour television or the sum of Sixty-Eight Thousand Naira (N68, 000) only; and one-and-a-half month basic salary Seventy-Eight Thousand Naira (N78, 000.00 only for 15th Year Service Award. The court also ordered the company to give to the claimant two door refrigerator or the sum of Two Hundred and seventy-Two Thousand Naira (N272, 000.00) only, as well as two months basic salary totaling One Hundred and Four Thousand Naira (N104, 000.00) for the Twentieth Year service Award.     

The court however declined to grant the release sought for loss of job noting that it will not only amount to double compensation but that it was not supported by the pleadings before the court.