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2 Year Campaign Brings Pearl Continental Hotel Lahore Union President Back to Work After Unfair Dismissal; Management Continues to Oppose Full Reinstatement

Nasir Aman Sindhu, President, Pearl Continental Hotel Lahore UnionOn 8th July 2006 the Punjab Labour Court reinstated Nasir Aman Sindhu (at right), President of the Pearl Continental Hotel Employees Union, Lahore, two and a half years after his unfair dismissal. Nasir Sindhu is also Publicity Secretary in the Pakistan Hotels, Restaurants, Clubs, Tourism, Catering and Allied Workers’ Federation.

Hotel management dismissed Nasir on 1st March 2004 claiming that Nasir illegally invited personal guests to an employees' day function. In fact, the employees' day function was organised jointly by the hotel management and the union according to collective agreement. The function in question was held on 28 January 2004 and the union invited Ch. Ameer Hussain, Speaker of the National Assembly as Chief Guest. The union president made a speech on the occasion demanding workers be paid bonuses and that casual workers, who had worked at the hotel for many years, should be made permanent. Ch. Ameer Hussain also supported these demands when he spoke. The hotel management were not happy as the reports of the function and speeches were published in local media outlets.

As a result, the hotel management issued charge sheet to Nasir Aman Sindhu. Nasir replied but management established an enquiry committee. The committee gave no chance for the union to the charges against Nasir and the management dismissed him on 1st March 2004. Nasir sent a grievance notice and later filed a case in the labour court.

Nasir was one of the participants of an IUF-sponsored study tour for hotel unionists to Indonesia and Malaysia in 2005 and on his return, the hotel management offered him his job back on the condition that he resign from his role in the Hotel Federation where he is Publicity Secretary. Nasir refused.

On 8 July 2006, the Punjab Labour Court ruled that PC Lahore Human Resource Manager was not the competent authority to issue a show cause notice as this person was not the employer, and thus set aside the dismissal order due to a defective inquiry. However, the court stated the management could hold a new inquiry. The matter of back benefits to Nasir would thus be determined in the light of the result of a new inquiry.

The union was conscious of management’s continuing desire to dismiss the union president following a new inquiry. An appeal was lodged with the Punjab High Court, stating that given the ruling of the Labour Court determined that the initial show cause notice was unlawful there should be no new inquiry. A request was also submitted to pay back benefits and to cancel any new inquiry the management might attempt.

The Punjab High Court accepted his appeal and issued notice for hearing in the first week of October 2006. The Punjab High Court also directed to the hotel management inquiry officer to proceed with an inquiry but not to finalize a report.

Initially, hotel management did not want to let Brother Nasir to return to work, but following the Punjab High Court's acceptance of the appeal they had no option but to allow Brother Nasir to return to work otherwise they may be held in contempt. Brother Nasir has now returned to work. The union intends to continue to press for his full reinstatement.

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[2006.08.09]