•Demands legislative action to regularise ‘non-permanent’ staff in banks
By Victor Ahiuma-Young
Organised Labour under the aegis of the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions, NUBIFIE, has picked hole in the ongoing amendment of 35-year-old Bank Employees Declaration of Assets, BEDA, Act 1986, saying some aspects of the amendment bill are offensive and infringe on individuals rights and liberty.
This came as Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, called for regulation manual to regularise ‘non-permanent’ staff of banks and other financial institutions as part of ongoing review of the nation’s Labour Laws.
In a welcome address at the 11th, 7th Quadrennial Delegates Conference , QDC, of NUBIFIE in Lagos Weekend, NUBIFIE President, Anthony Abakpa, listed some of the challenges confronting the sector, among which is the BEDA.
According to him, “another challenge facing the industry currently ongoing at the National Assembly has to do with the Bank Employees Act Declaration of Assets. While we appreciate the rationale behind the review of the act, which is to enhance accountability, transparency, integrity and good corporate governance in the banking industry. Nonetheless, we are concerned with some aspects of the amendment bill which has tended to infringe on individual rights and liberty. Individuals who are not employees of banks, such as children, spouses etc should not be subjected to any part of the act simply because of an affinity to an employee of a bank, especially on assets disclosures of such individuals who are not direct employees of banks.
“Another contradiction in the act was the definition of outsourced workers in the bank as employees of banks. This is an issue that has given great concern to Labour as a whole, but in particular, the banking and insurance industry, which has agitated the minds of concerned outsourced workers in the banking industry as to what exactly is their employment status.
“If, for the purpose of this act, outsourced workers are defined as bank employees, then that act should equally make them just that, employees of banks, as full staff status, recognising as it were, their current employment status being employees of outsourcing companies.
However, as union we are able to achieve the concurrence of the tripartite partners (government, employers and the two sectoral unions) in developing framework guidelines designed to address benefits and other related gaps in the employment of outsourced workers, which is current in the process of being finalised for presentation before the Federal Executive Council, FEC.
Speaking, President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, contended that the Labour Laws review should also embrace stiffer legislative sanctions on casualisation of workers and decried several unfriendly labour practises in the banking and other financial institutions sector.
Represented by Deputy President of Congress , Joe Ajaero, Wabba recalled that NLC and the leadership of NUBIFIE had reached out to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Bankers’ Committee, seeking practical solutions to the abnormalities in the system.
Lamenting that one of the abnormalities is that the last Collective Bargaining Agreement, CBA, in the financial sector was done in 2005.
According to him, “The CBA was due for review in 2007. Our affiliates in the banking sector wrote to the CBN on the need to review the CBA. Banks were also written to address the issues of CBA and ‘non-permanent’ staff in their payroll. Sadly, up till date nothing concrete has come out of those engagements.
“There is also the issue of subjecting bank workers to the stress and strain of outrageous deposit or investment targets. Such pressure has forced many bank workers into very unethical and immoral conduct just to satisfy the expectations of management.
“It is important to make the point loud and clear that these unfair, degrading and dehumanising culture that have become entrenched in our banking system are not only akin to “modern day slavery” but are also against conditions precedent for banking operations license in Nigeria and certainly offensive to our culture and tradition and laws.”