By Victor Ahiuma-Young

Few days ago, workers in the nation’s financial sector under the aegis of National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Employees, NUBIFIE, gathered in Lagos to elect leaders to run the affairs of the Union for the next four years.

The event afforded the leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and its affiliate, NUBIFIE, to once again, bring the rising cases of precarious employment in the country, especially in the financial industry.

Speaking at the conference, President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, lamented increasing casualisation of workers in the financial sector despite efforts by organised labour to end casualisation and other forms of precarious employment.

Represented by a Deputy President of Congress, Joe Ajaero, Wabba said: “There is no gainsaying the fact that despite our best intentions and interventions, there are still very serious industrial relations issues persisting in Nigeria’s banking sector.

The most pressing appears to be the issue of casualisation of workers in the banking sector. According to a report published by the Campaign for Democratic Workers Rights, 45% of the workforce in Nigeria operates as casual workers; 50% of the burden of casualisation exists in the downstream oil and gas and banking sub-sectors of the economy and other work places.

Casual workers in our workforce operate under very precarious conditions with near total denial of the benefits associated with permanent and decent work. Nigerian workers can no longer offer their labour to slave drivers whose only interest is profit maximization and capital mobility. The leadership of the Congress has identified and isolated this issue as a major advocacy concern in the ongoing review of Nigeria’s labour laws and we can tell you that our strident struggle will soon translate to major legislative wins.

“Closely related to labour casualisation is the worrisome pattern of anti-unionization in the banking sector. The denial of workers their right to freedom of association and belonging to trade unions is a fundamental assault on Nigeria’s Constitution which via Section 40 guarantees workers the right to assemble and join any association of their choice. It is also a grave violation of core International Labour Organization, ILO standards especially Conventions 87 and 98 which Nigeria had ratified since 1960. I can assure you that the leadership of the Congress is also tackling this issue through the ongoing labour law review. Earlier in his welcome address, NUBIFIE President, Anthony Abakpa, who had been reelected, informed that the administration was a product of reconciliation and peace initiative, saying: “An interim administration that was saddled with the task of restoring peace and stability in our great union and ensuing the objective of attaining the ultimate service delivery to our membership and the overall progress of our union.

Meanwhile, besides the re-election of Abakpa as National President; Chinedu Ogbonna, emerged as the Deputy National President; Francis Ndife, Deputy National President; Ibrahim Saidu, Vice-President; James Yaro, Vice-President; Onyekachi Emeka, National Treasurer; Femi Makindipe, National Trustee; Nkiru Ejim, National Trustee; Abubakar Gyang, National Auditor; Thomas Omoaka, National Auditor, and Stella Adu, Female Representative.

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