Retrenchment: FG in talks with unions in banking sector

Retrenchment: FG in talks with unions in banking sector
August 10 11:39 2016

The federal government on Wednesday took a major step towards the resolution of the lingering retrenchment and other major labour issues in the banking and financial institutions with a crucial meeting with the officials of Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI) and the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE).

Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr. Chris Ngige who chaired the meeting in his office in Abuja said banks and their employees must be ready to operate within the provisions of the the country’s laws.

“Today, our journey towards the resolution of the industrial disputes in the banking and financial sector begins in earnest. You may recall the series of petitions from the organized unions in banks and financial institutions , and individuals complaining of unfair labour practices which include illegal termination of appointments, forced resignations, unpaid exit emoluments  and entitlements, non remittance of union check-off dues, prolonged casualization, contract staffing and redundancy,” he said.

The minister said the disputes in the sector compelled him to intervene and declare status quo ante-bellum on May 30, 2016, and directing banks to reverse all termination of appointments while the unions were restrained from picketing the banks pending the outcome of negotiations.

He said government’s intervention was to resolve the disputes in the overall interest of all Nigerians, stressing that provisions of the Financial Institutions Act cannot be the only law banks would comply with.

“Banks are not only to obey the Banks and Financial Institutions Act, they must also obey the all encompassing laws of Nigeria, especially the labour laws because the banks cannot function without human beings.  So, both the banks, that’s the owners and the unions, the umbrella for the  workers must conform to the laws of the land that guide employer/employee relationship,” he said.

He said government was conscious of the nation’s steep economic indices, hence the emphasis on saving jobs where government was constrained to create new ones.

“The economy is technically in recession. It is therefore imperative for us as government to use various mechanisms to keep the existing jobs as we have done in the oil sector where cuts in perks and allowances especially at the upper level were deployed. We expect same in your sector,” he said.

In his response, the national president of Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions, Comrade Sunday Salako commended the minister for the forthrightness and dogged determination to defend the rights of all Nigerians irrespective of class.

Similarly, the national president of National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees, Comrade  Danjuma Musa, decried the flagrant abuse of labour laws by some banks operating in the country.

He told the Minister that since government’s intervention, management of the banks have resorted to hiding under the principle of “appraisal” to give poor evaluation to workers they want to sack.