UNION OF SHIPPING, CLEARING AND FORWARDING AGENCIES WORKERS OFNIGERIA AND MANAGEMENT OF TRANSALTIC NIGERIA LIMITED (NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT) HON. JUSTICE (CHIEF) P.A. ATILADE - PRESIDENT M.A. BORISADE, ESQ. - MEMBER B.N. OBUA, ESQ - MEMBER SUIT NO: - NIC/14/87 DATE OF JUDGMENT - FRIDAY, 26TH FEBRUARY, 1988. LABOUR LAW - Trade dispute - National Joint Industrial Council Agreement - Bindingness of -Whether binding on employer who is not a party to the agreement. LABOURLAW - Redundancy - Meaning of. LABOUR LAW - Redundancy - When created - Redundancy situation – Conditions employer must comply with when it occurs. LABOUR LAW - Redundancy benefits - Terminal benefits -Computation of – Total number of years of service by employee for purpose of computing - How calculated. LABOUR LAW - Trade dispute - Meaning of. LABOUR LAW - Trade union - Right of to defend workers who are its members. TRADE DISPUTE - National Joint Industrial Council agreement - Bindingness of - Whether binding on employer who is not a party to the agreement. TRADE DISPUTE - “Trade dispute"- Meaning of TRADE DISPUTE - Trade union – Right of to defend workers who are its members. WORDS AND PHRASES - Redundancy – Meaning of. WORDS AND PHRASES - Trade dispute – Meaning of. ISSUES: 1. Whether the Appellant can legitimately speak for the 15 workers affected. 2. Whether the appointments of the 15 staff were wrongfully terminated. 3. Whether the laid-off workers should be paid redundancy benefits. FACTS: The Respondent issued letters to fifteen of its junior staff that it could not cope with its staff strength, so they should proceed on leave without pay with immediate effect until the company's circumstances improved. The letters were silent on April, 1986 salary which at that time had not been paid. The Appellant union sought to discuss the matter with the Respondent to no avail and they therefore declared a trade dispute. The matter was referred to the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP), which made its award, wherein it considered that workers whose appointment were not confirmed be treated as termination while those who were confirmed would be treated under redundancy condition. The Appellant was dissatisfied with the award and lodged an appeal against same. Consequently, the dispute was referred to the National Industrial Court. HELD: (Allowing the appeal): 1. On Meaning of "trade dispute" - By virtue of section 37 of the Trade Disputes Act, No.7 of 1976 a trade dispute means any dispute between employers and workers, or between workers and workers, which is connected with the employment or non-employment, or the terms of employment and physical condition of work of any person. 2. On Right of a trade union to defend workers who are its members - It is the legitimate function of a trade union as a legal entity to defend the interests of workers who are its members. 3. On Meaning of “redundancy” - By virtue of section 19(3) of the Labour Act, No.21 of 1974, redundancy means an involuntary and permanent loss of employment caused by an excess of manpower. 4. On When a redundancy is created and conditions employer must comply with a redundancy situation - In the event of redundancy, an employer must comply with the conditions laid down in section 19(1) and (2) of the Labour Act, No.21 of 1974, as follows: (a) the employer shall inform the trade union or workers' representative concerned of the reasons for and the extent of the anticipated redundancy; (b) the principle of last in, first out shall be adopted in the discharge of the particular category of workers affected, subject to all factors of relative merit, including skill, ability and reliability; ability; and (c) the employer shall use his best endeavours to negotiate redundancy payments to any discharged workers who are not protected by regulations made under subsection 2 below, (d) By subsection (2), the minister may make regulations providing, generally or in particular cases, for the compulsory payment of redundancy allowances on the termination of a worker's employment because of his redundancy. In the instant case, the termination of appointments of the fifteen workers was actuated by a move to cut down costs, and therefore carried out under redundancy conditions and should be treated as a case of redundancy. 5. On When redundancy occurs - Redundancy occurs when the services of a worker, having been in the continuous employment of an employer, are no longer required by that employer due to no fault of the worker. When such a situation arises, the employer pays redundancy benefits to such a worker - the sum depending generally on the length of service. 6. On How number of years an employee served is calculated for the purpose of computing redundancy and/or terminal benefits - Whether an employee's appointment is confirmed or not, the total number of years the employee has served is calculable from the date of his appointment for the purpose of computing redundancy benefits and/or terminal pay.