His Lordship, Hon. Justice Polycarp Hamman of the Portharcourt Judicial division of the National Industrial Court has ordered UBA to pay her former staff Mrs. Glory Bobmanuel the sum of Fifteen Million, Six Hundred and Forty-Three Thousand, Nine Hundred and Seventy-Eight Naira as her monthly remuneration shortfalls from July 1st 2008 till 31st of March 2012 within 30 days.
The Court held that Glory's has established with evidence of her entitlement to salary shortfall remuneration, but declined to grant the claim seeking the bank to write a formal apology letter to her for the embarrassment and inconveniences for lack of proof.
From facts, the Claimant’s – Glory Bobmanuel had averred that since 2008 her salary was underpaid that her branch sent several mails to the headquarters requesting for changes to be effected but all to no avail, that she continued to work until on the 30th of March, 2012 when she was instructed via phone to stop work until further notice, and no reason was given as justification for the directive that all efforts to resolve the issue proved abortive.
She averred further that till date she has neither been recalled back to work nor issued any termination letter that the attitude of the defendant has caused her economic hardship and psychological trauma that employment has not been terminated nor paid any severance benefits.
In defence, the firm submitted that the sum of N172,394 offered to the Claimant in the salary review/upgrade was the claimant’s annual basic salary payable monthly in arrears, and her monthly basic salary after the said review was N14,366 per months and not N172,394 as wrongly speculated.
Learned counsel O. I. Osikoya for the firm further maintained that in line with their exit exercise, the claimant was advised to resign her appointment in 2012 but she refused, hence the bank terminated her appointment on 5th April 2012 and a copy of the letter was sent to her home address, that the Defendant did not breach any contractual agreement with the claimant that she is not entitled to any of the claims in the suit as the action is frivolous, speculative and vexatious urged the court to dismiss the claims of the claimant in its entirety.
In opposition, the claimant counsel J. C. Onuoha with R. O. Ovoro further submitted that by virtue of salary upgrade that the claimant’s monthly salary is N172, 394 that the Defendant has been underpaying her till date and the firm confirmed that letter of salary review was made without any fraud or duress vide the answers during cross-examination urged the court to grant the relief sought in the interest of justice.
In reply, the firm counsel opined that the claimant who asserts that her employment subsists has failed to show that she worked for the firm after she was asked to resign and her employment terminated, again asked the Court to dismiss the claimant’s case for want of proof.
Delivering the Judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Polycarp Hamman held that the sum of N172,394 indicated as basic salary payable monthly in salary review/upgrade is the claimant’s basic salary per month that clear and unambiguous words in a document should be given their ordinary/literal meanings.
“Defendant witness tried to justify the non-production of any proof of delivery of the letters by stating in paragraph 22 of her witness statement on oath that due to office relocations after the incident the Defendant could not locate the dispatch entry register. This to my mind is an exercise in futility and does not relieve the defendant of the burden of proof. The employee must be informed that his employment is being or has been terminated.
“While general damages are such as the law implies to have accrued from the wrong complained of, I am of the view that relief ‘c’ which has been granted can assuage whatever damages suffered by the claimant. In any case, since it is at the court’s discretion I am not persuaded to grant the same.”