Trade restriction: Sacked workers win case against MTN

One of the GSM service providers in the country, MTN Nigeria has been ordered to pay full four years post-disengagement salaries to 63 workers, who were laid off by the company in 2009.

mtn yafu yafu

The Lagos Division of the National Industrial Court, which handed this order, also awarded additional N10,000 against MTN in favour of each of the 63 workers to cover the cost of filing the suit marked: NICN/LA/596/2013.

The court presided over by Justice P.O. Lifu said the mobile telecoms company must pay the judgment credit sum within 30 days from October 26, 2016 when the judgment was delivered, failing which the judgment credit would attract an annual interest of 10 per cent.

Harrison Ossai, Gabriel Ameh and Stephen Mahaja, had dragged the network provider to court on behalf of themselves and 60 other workers laid off by the South Africa-owned company with the condition that they must never work with any other telecommunication company for four years after their disengagement.

The claimants had, in their suit, stated that they have been subjected to financial hardship on account of the restraint of trade imposed them by MTN.

In his testimony before the court, Ossai said the trade restraint imposed by MTN bungled his chances of being employed by Globacom and Airtel, which were other telecommunication companies, adding that after being sacked by MTN, he was jobless for six years. Like other claimants, he prayed the court to order MTN to pay him N10m and another N20m for filing the suit.

Delivering his judgment, Justice Lifu said he was “satisfied that the claimants had proved their claims before the court as to the oppressive and unreasonableness of the restraint of trade covenant for four years for making and leaving the claimants hard and dry for four years.”

“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,” the judge held.

Justice Lifu then 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.

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