Mullings et Al v Bahamas Oil Refining Company

JurisdictionBahamas
CourtSupreme Court
JudgeMalone, Snr. J.
Judgment Date21 Mar 1988
Docket NumberCommon Law Side No. 68 of 1988

Supreme Court

Malone, Snr. J.

Common Law Side No. 68 of 1988

Mullings et al
and
Bahamas Oil Refining Co.
Appearances:

Mr. M. Glinton for the applicants

Mr. R. Lobosky for the respondent

Practice and procedure - Injunction — Trade dispute — Application for order to continue of an injunction — Trade dispute — Industrial Relations Act, 1970, ss. 80, 81 — Injunction dissolved — Remedy not granted where mutual confidence in relationship (employer/employee) no longer exists.

Malone, Snr. J.
1

The plaintiffs are employees of the defendant and by their summons apply for an order for the continuation of the injunction obtained ex parte on the 20 th January, 1988. That injunction is as follows:–

“… the respondents be and are hereby restrained by themselves, servants or agents or otherwise from taking any measures to terminate the applicants' employment from otherwise acting in any way detrimental to the rights and status of the applicants presently enjoyed or accruing to the applicants as employees by virtue of their employment, in contravention of the above mentioned Act, until such time as the pending trade dispute between the applicants and the respondents will have exhausted the trade dispute procedure provided for under the said Act or otherwise determine, or until after the 30 th January, 1988 whichever is soonest in point of time”.

2

The Act in question is the Industrial Relations Act, No. 14 of 1970, (“the Act”).

3

Mr. Glinton submitted that as the Act provides machinery for the amicable resolution of disputes, a right to have disputes settled amicably is created. Consequently, a threat made against that right would constitute a threatened contravention of the Act and give rise to a claim for relief by way of injunction under section 81 of the Act. That section entitles any person:–

“having sufficient interest in the relief sought … upon making application to the Supreme Court in accordance with rules made under section 41 of the Supreme Court Act, and upon satisfying the court that there are reasonable grounds for apprehending a contravention of this Act by any person or by any trade union to an injunction restraining that person or union from so contravening this Act”.

4

Assuming that submission to be sound in law, a finding that a threat constituting a breach of the Act is of crucial importance to it. Mr. Lobosky submitted that the evidence does not support such a finding. What then is the evidence?

5

The plaintiffs, Mr. Mullings and Mr. Smith are Refinery Superintendents of the defendant company. They are not members of a bargaining unit but have individual contracts with the defendant. Early in August, 1987, with two other fellow employees, Mr. Malone and Mr. Ferguson, they sought legal advice in connection with their employment. The advice they sought principally concerned the introduction by the defendant of an employees' benefits scheme effective the 1 st April, 1987. The scheme was implemented only after discussions with employees in group meetings that began on the 30 th March, 1987, continued through mid May, 1987 and culminated in a poll ballot. At that poll 133 persons voted for the scheme, 55 against and 36 abstained. The defendant had made it clear that it would abide by the vote of the majority and, to quote from...

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