A Nigerian king-in-waiting who was fired after he overstayed a Tesco time-off deal for regal duties in his home village has been awarded €10,000 compensation for unfair dismissal.
An Employment Appeals Tribunal found that Tesco had failed to "adhere to any of the procedures" when it dismissed Edward Agbaje, of The Sycamores, Edenderry, Co Offaly.
Mr Agbaje, who said he is now a taxi driver taking home €31 a week after expenses, had started work with Tesco in May 2006. Speaking at his home in Co Offaly yesterday, Mr Agbaje expressed disappointment at the level of the tribunal settlement.
As he comes from royal lineage, Mr Agbaje had been required to carry out ceremonies in his native village in preparation for his ascendancy to the throne.
In April 2008, he booked four weeks' holidays to return to Nigeria as he had been selected to be the future king of his village. However, he was unable to return for six weeks due to the processes involved in his village regarding his kingship.
He told the tribunal that when he returned to work he explained the position to the company and said his kingship would possibly mean he had to return to the village at a later date. "The process in his local village in Nigeria has to do with tradition and he had to fall in line with that process. Because of this he was not in control of his return date," the tribunal was told. Mr Agbaje's explanation was accepted by the company and he did not receive any warning and no disciplinary action was taken against him.
Seven months later he had to return to his village. He claimed he had been granted two weeks off from November 10 for the trip but the company said he was only given a week's unpaid leave. He had phoned Tesco from Nigeria to say he would be delayed and did not return until December 1.
He told the tribunal he had not received a November 10 letter telling him he only had a week off, a November 17 letter seeking an explanation for his absence and a November 24 letter saying his employment was at an end due to his failure to explain his absence.
In its determination yesterday, the tribunal said the company's failures included not providing Mr Agbaje with a representative during the disciplinary hearing. In finding he was unfairly dismissed the tribunal said there was "an element of contribution" on the part of Mr Agbaje.