NLC Warns First Bank Against Retrenchment of 1000 Workers

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***Threatens Severe Industrial Action If…

By Helen E. Ochekwu

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Monday demand immediate suspension of a planned retrenchment of 1000 Nigerian workers by the management of First Bank Nigeria Plc, warning that failure to heed its demands will result to a severe industrial action against the giant financial institution.

“We demand an immediate suspension of the plans to retrench over one thousand workers in the employment of First Bank Nigeria PLC; a genuine engagement on this issue with our affiliate (NUBIFIE) which is your workers’ representative organization; adequate measures to re-assure workers of First Bank of Nigeria PLC of your bank’s commitment to protect their rights at work.

“We wish to posit that if First Bank of Nigeria PLC fails to give due consideration to our demands, we would be left with no other option than to adopt time tested trade union measures to protect the interest and welfare of workers in
your organization.” NLC said.

Contained in a statement signed by NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, and made available to The Labour, NLC went on to said it is disheartening that the said retrenchment plan targeted younger workers within the age bracket of 35 and 55.

The statement in full reads; “It has been brought to our attention by one of our affiliate unions, the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE), that First Bank of Nigeria PLC plans to embark on a mass retrenchment of over one thousand members of its staff.

“We write to draw your attention to the fact that any such exercise must be done in line with the provisions of the Labour Act guiding Redundancy Exercise. It is disheartening that the mass retrenchment billed for the end of November 2019 targets workers whose ages range between 35 and 55 years and who have put in an average of 5 years in the services of First Bank Nigeria PLC.

“We also understand that the workers being listed for this unjust, and inhumane treatment by your bank have been categorized as “outsourced workers”.

“Dear MD, apart from the non-recognition of “outsourced” labour by Nigeria’s labour laws, it is extremely tortious to imagine that First Bank with an enabling banking license could boldly assert that its workers are the responsibility of an entity not licensed to operate as a bank.

“As a matter of fact, what our laws recognize and what is extensively provided in Section 7 and 11 of Nigeria’s Labour Act is that employers are required within three (3) months of engagement of an employee to give the employee a written contract of employment which must specify among other things a description of the parties to the contract of employment, the nature of the services (s) to be rendered, the tenure of the contract, remunerations which must be paid, hours of work, the period of notice to be served before the contract can be terminated and possible grounds for the termination of an employee’s contract.

“The information available to us indicates that First Bank of Nigeria PLC, by its plan to retrench over one thousand of its staff and without adequate and commensurate severance benefits, is in severe breach of the extant provisions in our labour laws.

“We also understand that the management of First Bank of Nigeria PLC has refused to enter into dialogue with NUBIFIE which is the workers’ representative trade union organization. This is also in contravention to Section 20 of Nigeria’s Labour Act and Convention 98 of the International Labour Organization (ILO) on the right to Organizing and Collective Bargaining which Nigeria had long ratified.

“Finally, we wish to remind the management of First Bank of Nigeria PLC that workers are not commodities to be used and tossed aside at will. In addition to declaring humungous profits to its shareholders annually, First Bank of Nigeria PLC has a higher moral responsibility to the welfare of its workers as they are the ones who create the profit and wealth that the shareholders enjoy. We believe that it must be people before profit.”

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