Without following the correct procedure for redundancy, the Sierra Leone Ports Authority (SLPA) dismissed four labourers: Abdul Koroma, Lahai Konneh, Alfred Jones and Mohamed Sannoh who had been employed by them on 11th October 2001 and they sadly went away to swell the overgrowing population of the unemployed.
Years ago, people in situations like this had little recourse—except maybe to struggle again to find another job.
Looking for justice would be an uphill task and a very expensive one at that, especially to fight against “the government”-SLPA.
But times have changed as the four labourers did more than just sit at home or find another job. They sued.
Justice Tolla Thompson, president of the industrial court division, who presided over the matter directed in his judgment given on Wednesday 30th January 2008, that the management of SLPA pay the four Le33, 855,235 (thirty three million, eight hundred and fifty five thousand, two hundred and thirty five Leones) to each of them.
The Justice however did not award cost. The four labourers took the matter to the ministry of Labour in January 2003 and the matter was referred to the courts in October 2007. These four men were declared redundant and only for a week after, their positions were filled up again.
This is against the labour laws of this country, which stipulated that it should take three months after redundancy before that same position is filled up by somebody else.
It was also against the SLPA Acts which holds that it should take 20 weeks after redundancy before that position is filled up again.
Justice Tolla Thompson saw these lapses and tilted the scale of justice for the plaintiffs. Abdul Koroma, one of the plaintiffs, said they were very gracious to the judge for giving them justice.
“We now believe in the justice system when the likes of Justice Tolla Thompson is in it, we are very poor people and low class. We did not even have money to pay our lawyer, Elvis Kargbo,” he stated. Lahai Konneh, one of the four, said each of them had worked for the Ports for 15 years except Mohamed Sannoh who worked for 10 years, and that before they were declared redundant they were earning a salary of Le128,000 per month. These new millionaires did not say what they would do with this newly acquired wealth, but they all agreed that they had been given justice.