INDICATION has emerged that 56 dismissed workers of Unilever Nigeria Plc, who have been battling f against wrongful dismissal and payment of their benefits for past two years may soon get reprieve as the management of the household goods manufacturing giant, has expressed willingness to settle out of court and ready to pay the ex-workers their benefits.
This development was revealed before Justice Ojikutu-Oshode of Ikeja High Court, last week, when the court was informed that the management had indicated interest to pay the former workers their entitlements.
The workers had approached the Court, asking it to declare their dismissal by the company as “is illegal and unconstitutional”.
Two out of the 56 ex-workers had earlier instituted a case against Unilever over unlawful dismissal without and approached the court for redress.
The 54 workers who joined two of their colleagues in suit, in their motion averred that if they were joined in the suit earlier filed by their colleagues, would enable the court to “effectively and completely adjudicate upon and settle the questions in this case and to avoid the multiplicity of action.”
At the proceedings, the presiding judge, Justice Ojikutu-Oshode suggested to the parties in the dispute to explore means to settle the matter out of court.
Counsel to the company, Mr O.U. Kani had produced a letter before the court dated June 7, 2010 , signed by one Michael Ademolu, a human resources officer with the Unilever, addressed to the first two workers, Eromosele Famous and Bolarinwa Bashiru who approached the court for intervention in their plights.
The lawyer, Mr. Kani informed the affected workers to pick up their final settlement at the company’s head office in Lagos Kani, while assuring the court that the letters of final settlement for the other affected workers would soon be sent to them.
Mr Amobi Ogudu, counsel to the dismissed workers, agreed to the court’s suggestion after consulting with his clients.
The workers, represented by Mr Idono Omokenu and Mrs Amuda Jimoh, in their writ of summons had prayed the court to declare their dismissal without payment of their entitlements and benefits as wrongful termination, arbitrary and oppressive conduct.
They also sought for an order declaring that the conduct of Unilever Plc in inviting soldiers to torture and brutalised them was unlawful and oppressive.
They further asked the court to order the defendant to pay them N800 million jointly and severally, being the outstanding entitlements due to them as exemplary and aggravated damages “in reparation for the unlawful acts occasioned by the defendant against them”.