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Fresh wave of retrenchment looms in banking sector

By Victor Ahiuma Young
INDICATIONS have emerged that some banks have been discreetly easing out staff in a fresh wave of retrenchments in the nation’s banking sector, even as the dust raised by the recent retrenchments which claimed not less than 10,000 workers occasioned by Mallam Lamido Sanusi led Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN reform, is yet to settle.


Already, Vanguard’s findings confirmed that organised labour in the nation’s financial institution, under the aegis of Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance Institutions, ASSBIFI, has written a strong worded petition to the Group Managing Director/CEO of First Bank of Nigeria, FBN, Plc, warning against any unprocedural disengagement of staff to avoid industrial unrest.

Investigation also revealed that organised labour is planning a showdown with banks that have failed to pay disengaged employees full benefits.

Vanguard’s findings revealed that because of  the public outcry and the tension the last mass retrenchments of workers in the sector caused, most of the banks are now retrenching their staff in trickles and discreetly to checkmate suspicion and public uproar.

However, Vanguard’s findings confirmed that two bank, a first generation and a new generation bank are planning to release over 1500 workers into the unemployment market any moment from now.

In fact, the said first generation bank, according to sources,  plans to ease out nearly 1000, while the new generation bank is looking at not less than 500 employees.

Reacting to this development, the Secretary-General of ASSBIFI, Comrade Mr. Javis Erhomosele, told Vanguard that the Association is aware that some banks are retrenching workers and that ASSBIFI is indeed talking to one or two of such banks.

He however, warned  that the association was prepared and ready to close down any bank or financial institution that failed to adhere to the laid down rules governing employer-employee relationship especially the subsisting collective bargaining in the sector.
Comrade  Erhomosele advised banks to avoid anything that would unearth the fragile peace in the industry, warning that any bank caught indulging in discreet sacking of workers would definitely incur the wrath of organised labour.
He confirmed that the association had petitioned the MD/CEO of FBN, over alleged planned mass retrenchment when the dust of earlier mass retrenchment has not settled.

In a petition dated May 11, 2010, and titled “Unlawful staff rationalisation by default”,  ASSBIFI said:  “We are in receipt of the letter dated 5th May, 2010 from our Unit to your Management on “discreet disengagement of members of staff without following due consultation”.

The Union is highly disturbed that your Management can again resort to the reprehensible tactics of mass lay off of our members under the guise of “Early Retirement Scheme”; a failed approach which our letter dated 3rd September, 2009 profusely thrashed out before your management saw the wisdom in maintaining industrial sanity and equilibrium by entering into negotiation and redundancy agreement with us on 14th October, 2009 which led lawfully to the disengagement of some of our members at that time.

Without any ambiguity therefore, we are indeed certain that your Management is aware that its current ill-guided, subterranean handing of retirement letters to two hundred and ninety one (291) of our members is unlawful and a clear violation of the provisions of our extant labour law and industry wide Collective Agreement.

Section 20 of the Labour Act and Articles 5 (b) of Part II (Section 1) of our Collective Agreement requires that you enter into negotiation with the National Secretariat of the Union before your present exercise can be sustained.

As a law abiding corporate citizen, we expect that you will immediately guide your Management to respect the law and procedure as the only means of sustaining our well cherished industrial harmony as we look forward to the immediate reversal of the on-going rationalisation exercise and, receiving your invitation to properly negotiate and discuss as required by law. Your Management is fully conversant with all the requirements and you may therefore agree with our justifiable position of taking no guise as an excuse.”

In a related development, the ASSBIFI Secretary-General, disclosed that organised labour is planning an assault on another first generation banks that has its head office on Marina, Lagos, over lingering dispute on non-payment of full benefits to ex-staff disengaged in the last couple of years.

He lamented that all efforts at making the  bank see reason and settle the former employees their entitlement  yielded no positive response and added that organised had no other option than the take the bank head on.


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