Commercial Bank was ordered to pay Rs. 2 million as compensation to a dismissed manpower employee

The Negombo Labor Tribunal has ordered the Commercial Bank of Ceylon to pay Rs. 2,034,000.00 as compensation to an employee who worked for the Commercial Bank under the manpower label for 19 years. The special feature of this judgment is that LT has decided Commercial Bank as the real employer of MASA Kumara, who was introduced as an employee of Commercial Development Company. Attorney-at-Law Lakmali Hemachandra appeared for Kumara in this case.

Kumara joined the Commercial Bank of Ceylon as an Office Assistant in 1997. The Bank arranged to issue an appointment letter to him as an employee of a company called Carekleen Pvt Ltd, and placed him at the Bank’s Kandana Branch and later at Ja-Ela and Kochchikade branches. As many as 200 such employees were given appointment letters in 2012 as employees of Commercial Development Co, a subsidiary of Commercial Bank, as a result of a Union request.

According to the verdict, Kumar had worked continuously only for Commercial Bank from 1997 to 2017 until he was terminated, and had not worked a single day for Carekleen Co. or Commercial Development Co.  No charges were filed against him during his 19 years trnure until he was charged with misconduct in 2017 and fired. The order states that his dismissal was unfair in this situation.

Kumara’s last salary was Rs. 16950.00. The salary of a permanent employee of the bank who does the same work as Kumara is more than Rs. 50,000. Accordingly, the verdict states that in order to get a job at a lower salary, the Bank had prepared documents to show that he was an employee of another company and concealed that his real employer was the bank. The order states that the compensation ordered to be paid to him should be deposited with the Negombo Assistant Commissioner of Labor before May 10th.

This Order of the Labour Tribunal paves way for similarly placed Employees to challenge exploitative labour relationship, such as Commercial Bank in order to obtain cheap labour. However, the bank has reportedly filed an appeal against the order. Billions of rupees which should be payable to workers like Kumara, added to the bank’s profits annually without being paid to such employees. It is not a problem for an institution like Commercial Bank to spend a small amount of such exploited money, on litigation.

C. Maduranga