Sacked worker seeks court injunction

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday 26th March 2013


JAMES Pena, dismissed  as secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran church (ELC) of PNG yesterday, sought a court injunction to prevent him from being removed from office.

He appeared at the National Court in Lae, Morobe, and  through his lawyer Kaik Karu, of Daniels and Associates Lawyers, sought interim orders stopping the church from issuing letters or threats of any sort until there has been a proper determination by the church council.

The defendants in the matter are ELC head bishop Giegere Wenge (first defendant) and ELC secretary-general Albert Tokave (second defendant).  

Karu asked the court if his client could to return to work pending the determination of the substantive matter.

Pena was reportedly stood down from office on Jan 30, 2012, when a letter purportedly signed by Wenge and Tokave was served on him.

Another letter issued on March 15, 2012, by the bishop resulted in his termination. 

He was locked out of office. 

He has four years more to serve according to his employment contract with the church. 

Karu argued that only the ELC council and not the defendants had the authority to suspend his client. 

He said the direction to his client to step aside from duty was improper and invalid and that his client should be allowed to continue performing his duties to the church and its 1.2 million followers.

The defendants’ lawyer Kenneth Aisi, from Manase Lawyers, submitted, however, that the plaintiff was terminated by the head bishop because he misinformed members of the Kisim Bek Lutheran church, organised an illegal protest and entered the head office of the church at Ampo in Lae, Morobe, and assaulted the human resources manager Roy Gagau.   

Aisi said a resolution was passed on Dec 10, 2012, by the ELC council to have Pena’s contract reviewed under the church’s constitution and by-laws of ELC PNG. 

Justice Jacinta Murray, who presided over the matter, reserved her ruling and adjourned the case to later this week.