MTN Nigeria Communications has been ordered by the industrial court to pay 63 workers, who were laid off by the company in 2009, their full four years post-disengagement salaries.
The Lagos Division of the National Industrial Court presided over by Justice P.O. Lifu ordered MTN to pay judgment credit sum within 30 days from October 26, 2016 when the judgment was delivered, of which failure to do so, the judgment credit would attract an annual interest of 10 per cent.
The court also awarded additional N10,000 against MTN in favour of each of the 63 workers to cover the cost of filing the suit.
MTN had laid off the 63 workers with the condition that they must never work with any other telecommunication company for four years after their disengagement.
But in a suit numbered NICN/LA/596/2013, filed by Harrison Ossai, Gabriel Ameh and Stephen Mahaja, on behalf of themselves and 60 other workers laid off by MTN, claimed to have been subjected to financial hardship on account of the restraint of trade imposed on them by MTN.
The claimants urged the court to order MTN to pay them N10 million and another N20 million for filing the suit.
In his testimony before the court, one of the claimants, Ossai, said the trade restraint imposed by MTN bungled his chances of being employed by other telecommunication companies like Globacom and Airtel, adding that after being sacked by MTN, he was jobless for six years.
Satisfied that the claimants had proved their claims before the court as to the oppressive and unreasonableness of the restraint of trade covenant, for making and leaving the claimants hard and dry for four years, Justice Lifu ruled in their favour.
The judge held that; “Terminating the employment of the claimants and at the same time restricting them from seeking any employment from the sector generally and preventing them to be acting as agents or adviser or to engage in any other concern directly or indirectly for four years is clearly unreasonable in the light of global economic challenges occasioned by recession, which has resulted in mass unemployment.”
Justice Lifu hitherto ruled that each of the workers was entitled to be paid his last gross salary for four years after being sacked and ordered MTN to pay with an additional N10,000 each as cost.