NATION

Ex-worker seeks order to get Sugar Tribunal to honour ruling

A former Sugar Industry Tribunal employee has applied to the Employment Relations Court (ERC) to order his ex-employer to comply with a ruling of the Employment Relations Tribunal (ERT). The
27 Feb 2017 14:56
Ex-worker seeks order to get Sugar Tribunal to honour ruling

A former Sugar Industry Tribunal employee has applied to the Employment Relations Court (ERC) to order his ex-employer to comply with a ruling of the Employment Relations Tribunal (ERT).

The ERT on December 23, last year, ruled that the summary dismissal of Mahesh Gounder, the Sugar Tribunal’s Assistant Registrar, was unfair, unlawful and unjustified.

Chief Tribunal Sainivalati Kuruduadua ordered Gounder’s reinstatement to his former position or a position “no less advantageous to him.”

Mr Kuruduadua also ordered that Gounder be reimbursed of 18 months of wages as a result of his employment grievance.

Gounder’s representative, Darmodaran Nair, said they had lodged an application and were waiting for a date to be set for the hearing.

Mr Nair said the Sugar Tribunal had not complied with Mr Kuruduadua’s order.

The Registrar of the Sugar Industry Tribunal/Industrial Commissioner, Timothy Brown, could not be reached to comment yesterday.

Court documents show that on June 10, 2013, at around 3.30pm Brown called Gounder into his office and told him that the Permanent Secretary (the late Manasa Vaniqi) had directed him (Brown) to send Gounder home “as he was taking bribes, spreading rumours against Government and meeting with gang members in May.”

Gounder stated that he asked Brown for his termination letter but was told that he (Brown) saw no grounds to terminate him but had to follow the PS’s orders.

In fact, the PS went ahead and on June 13, 2013, put up a paid newspaper advertisement which said that Gounder was no longer employed.

In his evidence under oath Brown explained that the PS wrote to him on April 12, 2013 to terminate the appointment of Gounder for breaching secrecy and deliberately giving wrong advice to the cane farmers.

Before reading the said letter Brown was not aware of any of the allegations made against Gounder and he categorically stated that he did not agree with the contents of that letter.

He then wrote to the PS on August 15, 2013, on the process that had taken place in regards to Gounder like conciliation and interviews.

The PS replied that Gounder’s sacking was based on evidence. But Brown said the disciplinary process was not adhered to.

That was the reason why he called Gounder into his office and told him to leave immediately. Gounder was shocked and humiliated.

Brown stated that report by intelligence and those from farmers led to the termination. It was effected by the PS Sugar not the Sugar Tribunal and that the grievance procedure was not made available to Gounder.

In his sworn evidence, Gounder stated that he did not agree with the contents of the letter from the PS as he had a good relationships with all the clients.

He agreed that he was called in by Brown who told him that he had been terminated by the PS and when he asked for the termination letter, Brown said there was none and that he had no basis to issue one as he, Gounder, was innocent.

Gounder said Brown had indicated that he would ask the PS to provide one but since June 10, 2013, Gounder still had not received any written termination letter including the reasons for termination.

Gounder also stated that he felt Brown was also concerned with his security of employment if he attempted to appeal to the PS’s decision.

He said according to his contract, only the Sugar Tribunal can terminate him, no one else.

Mr Kuruduadua ruled that Gounder was unfairly, unlawfully and unjustifiably dismissed. The Sugar Industry Tribunal was represented by N Kumar.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback:  ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj



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