Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Government, banks’ unions begin talks over sack in financial institutions

The Federal Government, and the representatives of banks and workers’ unions in the financial services sector, have begun negotiations aimed at halting further retrenchment of workers in the industry.
The parley, which began in Abuja was the first of the three-leg meetings with the sector’s stakeholders.

Kick-starting the meeting, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige said the negotiations were influenced by series of petitions written by the organised unions in banks and financial institutions as well as individuals complaining of unfair labour practices such practices include illegal termination of appointments, forced resignations, unpaid exit emoluments and entitlements, non-remittance of union check-off dues, prolonged casualisation, contract staffing and redundancy.



Ngige explained that his directive to the banks in May not to terminate workers’ appointment and restraining unions from picketing the premises was misrepresented.
While reassuring that his intervention at the time was aimed at resolving the crisis in favour of all the aggrieved parties, Ngige was quick to express his displeasure at the abuse of labour laws by the financial institutions warning that the provisions of the Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) cannot be the only law banks will comply with to the exclusion of other laws of the country.

His words: “Banks are not only to obey the Banks and Financial Institutions Act, they must also obey all the 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 the Federal Government is conscious of the nation’s worrying economic indices, hence, the emphasis on saving the jobs while government is also exploring creation of new jobs.

“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.

He further assured that government is not on a witch-hunt but was also prepared to ensure that all parties to the dispute obeyed the laws of the land, insisting that where retrenchment was inevitable at the end of negotiations, then due process of the law must be followed.

In his response, the National President of Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFE), Sunday Salako commended the minister for his intervention.

He stated: “This is the first time, a minister of Labour in this country, at least in recent time, will for once come out to say that the bourgeoisie that are taking we the workers for a ride in this country cannot do that again with impunity. That statement alone is a firm new direction.

He listed unilateral declaration of redundancy, casualization, non-remittance of check-up dues as the peak of the unfair labour practices in the sector and expressed the commitment of the union to complement the efforts of the government to tackle the problems.

Similarly, the National President of the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE), Danjuma Musa, decried the flagrant abuse of labour laws by some banks.

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