Court of Appeal sets aside trial judge’s decision : –finds sugar worker was wronged
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SUGAR-worker Sheik Mahazudin, who had been wrongfully dismissed by his employer, Guyana Sugar Corporation Ltd in 1977, took the Corporation to court.Having lost at the trial, he appealed to the Guyana Court of Appeal, constituted by Justices J. A. Luckhoo, Charles A. Fung-A-Fat and J. Gonsalves-Sabola.

That Court held that the dismissal was wrongful, allowed the appeal, set aside the Order of the trial judge, and entered a new judgment in favour of the appellant.
The facts disclosed that the Appellant was an employee of the Respondent. He was employed, as of 1973, by the Bookers Sugar Corporation, which became the Guyana Sugar Corporation in 1976.
He was dismissed from employment in September 1977 for not obeying an order, issued to him by the factory manager, to go to the homes of striking workers and convince them to resume work.
At the hearing, the Appellate Court held that the Respondent had wrongfully dismissed the Appellant, in that summary dismissal was only applicable when an employee’s conduct was so bad, it could deeply impair the basic confidence necessary between employee and employer.
This not being the case in this instance, the Court felt the Appellant was entitled to compensation for breach of contract, the damages of which are measured as all that the employee would have earned but was prevented from earning by the wrongful dismissal. It was also felt that whereby the contract was terminated by notice, it must be assumed that the employee would have terminated the contract at the earliest possible date.
Damages, in this case, were to be calculated in the sum of three months’ worth of the Appellant’s compensation, since he was entitled to three months notice on being served a dismissal letter.
In arriving at its decision, the Appellate Court made reference to 25 cases. Mr. Ashton Chase, S.C., Mr. D. Dial and Mr. C. R. Ramson, S. C., for the Appellant and Mr. C. L. Luckhoo, S.C. and Mr. Edward Luckhoo for the Respondents.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Luckhoo said: “The Appellant’s claim in the High Court for damages for wrongful dismissal against the Respondents was dismissed with costs, which led to the Appellant appealing against the High Court ruling.
“The Appellant’s services over the years as an employee of the Respondents and their predecessors commencing in January, 1947 ,until he was dismissed in September, 1977, have been fully set out in the judgment of the trial judge.
“He was dismissed from employment for not obeying an order issued to him by the factory manager at Blairmont Estate on 24th August, 1977 , to go to the homes of factory workers on strike in order to try to get them to resume work. There is no need for me to relate the facts leading up to the time of dismissal as they have not been challenged in this appeal lodged against the decision.
“The Appellant seeks a reversal of that judgment and an entering of judgment in his favour for damages which flowed from the wrongful termination of his contract of employment, as well as for money which he alleges he earned for overtime services rendered during the subsistence of the employment.
“The first question, on the answer to which so much hangs, is: What were the terms and conditions of the contract of employment under which the Appellant performed his services ? Counsel for the Appellant contends it was an oral contract that commenced with the employment of the Appellant as a shift manager of the factory operations department d in June 1973.
“That was when the job specification for shift manager contained in the document tendered in evidence as Exhibit ‘B’ was handed to him on the abolishing, as Counsel put it, “of the post of Assistant Chemist and the creation of a new post of shift manager.” It was argued that that included within the contract were the provision of exhibit “B” and those of another document taken in evidence as Exhibit “Q” headed “Conditions of Service” which late document, Counsel said, had formed part of the contract of employment of the abolished post of assistant chemist but was accepted and agreed to by the Appellant as forming part of his new contract.
“The Respondents disagreed wholly with that approach. They maintained that the terms and conditions set out in the document Exhibit “A” relating to the post of assistant chemist were those which governed the case ; that there was a restructuring in 1973 of the senior staff in the factory department and the postn of assistant chemist was redesigned shift manager: By reason of nationalism, Bookers Sugar Estates, Limited came under the control of the Respondents and by letter dated 27th July, 1976, tendered in evidence as Exhibit “U”, all the former employees of Bookers Sugar Estates Limited (including the Appellant) were accorded the same conditions of employment as existed at nationalization in May,1976. The contents of the various documents adverted to will be set out during the curse of the judgment.
“Emphasis was laid ”by Counsel for the Appellant on three factors in support of his submission that a new contract came into operation in June, 1973. They were (a) that from that point of time the Appellant was required to work on shifts , whereas, before , that was not so ; (b) he was directly responsible to the assistant Factory Manager (production), whereas, before , he was directly responsible to the senior chemist ; (c) the post of shift manager carried with it wide responsibilities which entailed those of a chemists as well as of an engineer . There was an engineering input into the job , which as assistant chemist the Appellant was not required to do , and, thus, the system of working underwent ‘a qualitative change’.
“Counsel referred us to the evidence of the Appellant in re-examination which showed what were the changes in the nature of the duties having regard to the job specification (Exhibit ‘B’) of shift manager. The submission was that the trial judge’s findings were wrong when he held that he did not consider the post of shift manager a new post, that the duties of the former assistant chemist were the same, or substantially the same as, those of shift manager, the `judgment concluded.

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