By Babajide Komolafe & Victor Ahiuma-Young
IN a desperate bid to abort the planned picketing and disruption of operations ofÂ banks over the ongoing mass sack of workers, the Federal Government has summoned the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Chief Executives of banks and organised labour for a meeting aimed at finding solution to the looming industrial unrest.
Meantime,Â the CBN has said, â€œWeÂ never directed commercial banks to sack staff or rationalize branches as reported.
â€œBanks are private enterprises and the decision to engage or disengage staff is best left to the management and boards of the institution.Â These decisions are taken on the basis of business imperatives,â€ the apex bank said in a statement last night.
FGâ€™s truce meeting
The meeting which is being convened by the Labour and Productivity, Minister, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, SAN, Vanguard gathered, was directed by the Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, because of the tension generated and social implications of the massive retrenchment which was said to have been directed by CBNâ€™s Governor, Mr. Lamido Sanusi.
In fact, in mid December, the Labour Minister had faulted the massive retrenchments in the banks and called for immediate stoppage, but the management of the banks who claimed that the CBN, had directed them to cut down their work force, especially the troubled banks, by 30 percent, went ahead on job cut spree.
Facts on ground indicated that both so-called healthy banks and the troubled ones, have been using the CBNâ€™s alleged directive as a cover to off-load thousands of workers into the saturated labour market.
Vanguard sources disclosed that the meeting was initially scheduled for today, but had to be shifted by a day because of the meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)Â of the apex bank holding between yesterday and today.
But for the governmentâ€™s initiated stakeholdersâ€™s meeting, organised labour had concluded plans to begin a sustained picketing of the penciled down erring banks who have in the past few weeks sacked no fewer than 7000 workers.
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions, ASSBIFI, and its National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Employees, NUBIFIE, counterpart, have in different fora and statements, condemned both the alleged CBN 30 percent sack directives and banks implementation of the directives..
Confirming the meeting to Vanguard, Acting President of ASSBIFI, Comrade Sunday Salako, said labour’s position is unambiguous, which is theÂ recall of all the sacked workers since they were sacked without due process and disregard to the subsisting collective agreement in the industry among other illegalities.
According to him, â€œIt is about peace, it is about righting the wrong and following due process in what we do. This is a lawful country and under a civil rule. We must do things in a civilised way. So, we will go to the meeting to tell the government of our position. The sacked workers must be recalled before any other thing, period,â€ he added.
CBN denies ordering banks to sack
In a statement issued yesterday, the apex bank said, â€œThe Central Bank of Nigeria has noted with dismay, several untrue reports in the media alleging that the Central Bank of Nigeria ordered the mass sack of Deposit Money Banksâ€™ staff and rationalization of their branches.
â€œWe wish to reiterate categorically that the Central Bank of Nigeria has never directed commercial banks to sack staff or rationalize branches as reported.”