Sacked workers of Unilever Plc numbering 56 have been granted leave by an Ikeja High CourtÂ Â to be joined asÂ co-claimants in a suit filed by one Amuda Jimoh andÂ Idono Omokenu toÂ contest their alleged illegal dismissal and non payment of benefits by the company.
Justice Ojikutu Oshode in a ruling on the application for joinder filed by the workersÂ approved their motion thereby bringing the number of claimants seeking redress in the matterÂ to 58 rather than the initial two.
In the motion on notice filed by the workers led by one NiyiÂ Olusegun, the sacked workersÂ prayed the court to declare that their dismissal from Unilever PLC â€œwithout paying ourÂ entitlements and benefits amounted to wrongful termination, arbitrary and oppressiveÂ conduct.â€
Apart from this, they are jointly and severally asking the court to grant an order directingÂ the defendant to pay them the sum of N600 million being the outstanding entitlements due toÂ them and another N200 million â€œbeing an exemplary and aggravatedÂ damages in reparation forÂ the unlawful acts occasioned by the defendant against the claimants.â€
The workers through their counsel, Mr. Amobi Ogudu also prayed the court to declare that theÂ conduct of the defendant by inviting armed soldiers to allegedly torture and brutalize themÂ was unlawful and oppressive while claiming that their interest may be jeopardize if the suitÂ for wrongful dismissal initiated by their two colleagues â€”Mr. Idono Omokenu and Mrs. AmudaÂ Jimohâ€” before same court is concluded without their application.
In their affidavit in support of the motion, the 56 workers averred that if they were joinedÂ in the suit before the court it would enable the court to â€œeffectively and completelyÂ adjudicate upon and settle the questions in this case and to avoid the multiplicity ofÂ action.â€
Omokenu and Mrs. Jimoh in their own writ of summons earlier had prayed the court presidedÂ over by Justice T. Ojikutu-Osode to declare that their dismissal from their employmentÂ without paying them their entitlements and benefits amounted to wrongful termination,Â arbitrary and oppressive conduct.They sought for an order declaring that the conduct ofÂ Unilever PlcÂ to invite armed soldiers to torture and brutalized them was unlawful andÂ oppressive.
To this end, they were asking for an order of the court for the defendants to pay them N8Â million jointly and severally being the outstanding entitlements due to them and asÂ exemplary and aggravatedÂ damages â€œin reparation for the unlawful acts occasioned by theÂ defendants against the claimants.â€
The workers noted that the company failed in its promise by not increasing their wages asÂ agreed with the national leadership of their union.
However, in their statement of defence, Unilever Plc averred that it never made any promiseÂ and never failed to fulfill any promise made, adding that the claimants along with someÂ other employees in flagrant breach of their contracts of service unlawfully withdrew theirÂ services and embarked on an unlawful industrial action.The substantive suit has beenÂ adjourned till 28 October, 2010 for further hearing