The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees, AUPCTRE, records victory again, as court orders enforcement of parts of the Industrial Arbitration Panel award to its members in Anambra.
This was contained in a statement signed by AUPCTRE’s Secretary General, Raphael Imade, on Sunday, in Abuja.
The National Industrial Court (NIC) in Enugu, presided over by Justice O. O Arowosegbe, had on June 3, struck out a case filed by the union on behalf of its members in Anambra, for being incompetent, saying it could not grant an order already granted by the IAP, but could only enforce the same.
AUPCTRE had filed a case against the state government at the IAP in Abuja, in 2005 over non-payment of 48 months salaries and eight years leave allowance for employees of the Anambra State Water Corporation; and denying workers of the state’s Environmental Protection Agency 25 months salaries and eight years leave allowance.
In 2012, the IAP awarded in favour of AUPCTRE and the workers among other claims, their total outstanding arrears of salaries and leave allowances.
The IAP further ordered that the Anambra State Government should promote and increase the workers’ salaries across board and also ensure payment of workers gratuities and pension.
It said, in spite of the IAP award in favour of the workers, the Anambra State Government blatantly refused to make the necessary payments to AUPCTRE and workers as ordered.
The IAP had held that the conduct of Anambra government in refusing to pay its workers’ salaries for such a long time was the worst form of unfair labour practice in Nigeria.
AUPCTRE said in the statement that the unpleasant situation led the union to file an application at the NIC for the enforcement of the IAP award wherein the first bank account of the Anambra State Government was garnished in year 2014 for the payment of the judgment debts and cost.
Garnishment refers to a legal process that instructs a third party to deduct payments directly from a debtor’s wage or bank account, it is used in recovering debts such as unpaid taxes, monetary fines, child support payments and defaulted student loans.
After the said enforcement by garnishee in 2014, the government still refused to pay the workers’ salaries and leave allowances; and also did not promote and increase the workers’ salaries or pay pensions and gratuities as ordered in the award by IAP, it said.
AUPCTRE said this action by Anambra government forced it to file an application to NIC in 2018 to enforce part of the IAP award of promotion and salary increase across board and for payment of the retired workers’ pension and gratuities.
It was this application that led to the judgment of NIC, Enugu Judicial Division on June 3, wherein the Court held that it could not grant an order already granted by the IAP, but could enforce part of the award that was yet to be enforced.
The court further held that its enforcement jurisdiction could only be properly invoked through garnishee proceedings and application for committal until the IAP award was carried out.
It further ordered for an application to put the personal property of the judgment debtor on sale until it was able to defray the judgment sum.
According to AUPCTRE, the court said that it does not agree that the yet to be enforced part of the IAP award cannot be enforced by garnishee proceedings.
It said the workers’ pensions, gratuities, promotion and salary increase can be calculated and arrived at by simple arithmetic where the judgment debtors refused to carry out the award.