By Victor Ahiuma-Young
LAGOS—ORGANISED labour in the country’s banking and financial sector, under the umbrella of Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, ASSBIFI, has called on Nigerian workers, especially those in the financial sector, to brace up for a prolonged battle against unfair labour practices in the new year.
ASSBIFI said it would not tolerate the increasing unfair labour practices, especially contract staffing, casualisation of workers and refusal to allow workers join union in accordance with Session 40 of the Nigerian Constitution and International Labour Organisation, ILO’s Convention 82 on Freedom of Association.
President of ASSBIFI, Mr Sunday Salako, in a statement in Lagos said, “in Nigeria today, many employers of labour subject their employees to working conditions which are far from being human, are bestial and against bour laws, and international labour conventions especially in the factories, where there are high incidences of casualisation and industrial accidents.
“This is even worse with the red carpet treatment that government offers to some foreign direct investors under the guise of Export Processing Zone, EPZ, to turn their workplaces to modern day wage slave camps,” he added.
In the banks, insurance and allied financial institutions sector, the workers’ jeremiad is the same as with workers in other sectors, private or public.
“They are all victims of unfair labour practices.”
For instance, the Employers, Nigeria Employers of Banks, Insurance and Allied Institutions, NEAIBIA has refused to re_negotiate the existing industry wide Collective Agreement that has been due for review since 2005. The Minister of Labour and Productivity, its agencies and all other pertinent regulatory bodies have a role to play in exercising their immanent statutory power to enforce compliance by recalcitrant employers to the laws of the land on fair labour practice.”
“Contemporary experience in the financial sector in the country has shown that after any shake_up, the first casualty is usually the employees and depositors. Since the Prof. Charles Soludo Central Bank of Nigeria consolidation reforms of 2005, most managements of the surviving Banks have been notoriously hostile to workers’ and union’s rights.
The Sanusi’ shake up also triggered an era of unprecedented mass retrenchment in the industry with conscious steps to liquidate union structures.
The situation is more pathetic in the Insurance industry, micro finance banks and other financial institutions. These organisations that ought to be the flagship of professional standards, ethics and values have become odious purveyors of varied types of gross misconduct and corporate social irresponsibilities.
It is high time that all stakeholders sit down as social partners to guarantee fair labour standards in the sector as a sine qua non for the corporate survival of the sector and the nation. If this fails again however, the onus is on the Unions to organise a full scale industrial action that would checkmate the unrepentant and uncooperative managements that are vehemently opposed to best industrial practices in the sector.
All our members and other workers in the industry must therefore gird their loin and be prepared for the clarion call.”