METAL PRODUCTS SENIOR STAFF ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA AND MANAGEMENT OF METAL CONSTRUCTION (W.A) LTD (NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT) HON. JUSTICE (CHIEF) P.A. ATILADE - PRESIDENT S.O. KOKU, ESQ. - MEMBER ALHAJI Z.M. BELLO - MEMBER SUIT NO: - NIC/7/85 DATE OF JUDGMENT - TUESDAY, 15TH MARCH, 1988. LABOUR LAW - Benefits - Terminal benefit - Payment of Where provision for terminal benefits absent in contract of employment - When court payment to staff. LABOUR LAW - Dismissal - Summary dismissal circumstances of case only justify terrr.irj Power of court to convert summary dismissal to termination of appointment. LABOUR LAW - Query - Reply thereto - Length of time requires therefor – Worker given 24 hours to reply query - Whether adequate opportunity there: to defend himself. ISSUES: 1. Whether there was proof of the alleged refusal of the Respondent to pay Mr. Ihejirika the 10% Shagari Award. 2. Whether the dismissal of Mr. Ihejirika by the Respondent was wrongful. 3. Whether the Respondent was justified in summarily dismissing Mr. Ihejirika from the service of the company for the damage to the radio phone which cost about N10,000.00, without payment of any terminal benefits whatsoever. FACTS: The trade dispute between the parties involved the issues of refusal to pay Shagari Award and dismissal of a member of the Appellant union. It was referred to the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP), which duly made its award. Following an objection lodged against the Award of the Industrial Arbitration Panel by the Appellant, the Minister referred the issue in dispute to the National Industrial Court for determination. HELD: (Allowing the appeal, and granting gratuity and terminal benefits): 1. On Length of time a worker requires to give a written reply to a query – A worker does not require more than two to three hours to give a written reply to a query. 2. On Whether worker given a period of 24 hours to reply query is given adequate importunity to defend himself - A worker is given adequate opportunity to defend himself if he is given a period of 24 hours within which to reply a query. In the instant case, it was untenable for Mr. Ihejirika to plead that the period of 24 hours given to him within which to reply the query, Exhibit 4, was insufficient for him to do so. 3. On When National Industrial Court will convert summary dismissal to termination of appointment - Where the court holds the view that given the particular circumstances of a case, a workers appointment should have been terminated instead of summary dismissal with payment of salary in lieu of notice, the court will rule that the summary dismissal of such a worker be converted to termination of appointment with the payment of terminal benefits. 4. On When court will order payment of terminal benefits to a staff in the absence of in contract of employment - Where the court finds, as in this case, that there is no provision for terminal benefits payable to a senior staff in his contract agreement, the court will take note of the provisions for gratuity benefits payable to junior workers as specified in the conditions of service for junior workers, and order, that the senior staff be paid terminal benefits.