PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia - The Federal Court has ruled as fair the dismissal of nine Bank Bumiputra Commerce Bhd employees for taking part in an unlawful picket 10 years ago, saying their action constituted grave misconduct.
National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) general secretary J. Solomon was one of the nine sacked by the bank, which became CIMB Bank in 2004, for unlawful picketing in the lobby and banking hall of the bank's building in Jalan Tun Perak, Kuala Lumpur.
Federal Court judge Justice Hasan Lah said the dismissal was proportionate to the misconduct committed by them.
In his written judgment dated Oct 20 made available to The Star yesterday, Justice Hasan said the appellants must have been aware that dismissal would have been the inevitable punishment.
"There was no merit in the appellants' contention that their dismissal was actuated by discriminative practice," he said in the 27-page judgment.
"They barged through the side entrance despite attempts by security personnel to prevent them from doing so. They entered the bank's business premises with picket materials," he said, adding that this was wilful disobedience by the nine appellants.
The action, he said, had brought the bank into disrepute as a high standard of care and conduct was expected of an employee in the banking industry.
The Federal Court on March 7, 2012 granted leave to the nine to appeal on a question of law whether the Industrial Court was required to consider whether the punishment of dismissal was warranted in and proportionate to the findings of misconduct by the employer.
All the nine, who were active NUBE members, were confirmed employees of the bank prior to their dismissal on April 27, 2004.
The Industrial Court in 2009 upheld the dismissal of all the appellants, saying a deterrent "sentence" was necessary as their action had affected the bank's goodwill.
The appellants filed an application for a judicial review to quash the decision, but it was dismissed by the High Court in 2010 with costs.
The Court of Appeal later unanimously dismissed their appeal with costs.
CIMB counsel Datuk T. Thavalingam argued that participation in an unlawful picket warranted dismissal and the conduct of the nine employees must be scrutinised from the time the show-cause letter was issued to the opportunity to mitigate, when they showed no remorse.