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Supreme Court Rules in Favour of Former Telikom Employees

By Meleasie Goviro – EMTV News, Port Moresby

Up to 400 ex-Telikom employees will now be paid outstanding tax components of their redundancy payments, as per a National Courts Decision in 2015.

This comes after the Supreme Court dismissed ex-employer, Telikom’s application, for a review of the National Courts Decision, on the grounds that it was an abuse of process; Telikom had already made an initial appeal on the same matter.

On Friday, July 13, the Court ruled in favour of close to 400 former employees of Telikom PNG across the country. Telikom PNG is now required to pay them a total of K12 million in overdue tax components.

Back in 2011, after a restructure, over 300 Telikom employees became redundant. The National Executive Council (NEC), made a decision amongst others, approving the exemption of tax obligations on redundancy entitlements of Telikom staff.

Tau Kamuta, Lawyer Representing the former Telikom employees said: “Telikom did remit the tax and pay it to IRC…”

“What they failed to do was to sit with Treasury and IRC to come up with the instruments necessary for the tax exemption to be passed by Parliament”.

However, despite the NEC decision, relevant redundancy repayments were not made. “And that’s why we filed proceedings.” Mr Kamuta said, referring to the former employees.

He claims: “What the National Court had said is, Telikom must find that tax component bit [K12 million] and pay it to IRC, find that same amount and pay it to all these people”

Former Telikom Employees filed proceedings of declaration in 2013, concerning Telikom’s non-compliance with the NEC decision. In 2015, the Court ruled in favour of Telikom’s ex-employees, finding that the company had “acted in bad faith.”

It was this decision that Telikom initially appealed. Mr Kamuta said, “that appeal was never prosecuted, and so the respondents filed an appeal to dismiss, and the full Court of the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.”

After it was dismissed by the Supreme Court, Telikom then sought a review, to which the respondents argued was an abuse of process.

“During the course of the review, we argued that it was an abuse of process, on the basis that Telikom had already filed an appeal.” said Mr Kamuta.

Mr Kamuta says, going forward, his firm, Kamuta Lawyers, will be discussing with Telikom the remuneration of up to 400 ex-employees.

These include the families of those who have already passed away and ex-employees across all regions except Madang.

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