By Ebitonye Akpodigha
Discussions have commenced between the Federal Government and the organized labour unions (ASBIFFE & NUBUIFE) in the financial sector in Nigeria with a view to solving the lingering retrenchment and other major labour issues in the industry.
The two major unions at the meeting were the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFE) and the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE).
It would be recalled that few months ago, the FG directed banks in the country not to sack any of its employees, but this was not adhered to.
This week, Unity Bank sacked 215 out its staff and hired 200 to reposition the bank.
Worried by this development, the government moved to see how the issues can be managed.
A statement released recently to the media by the Public Relations Unit of the Ministry of Labour and Employment disclosed that the meeting was the first of the three-stage meetings with the sector’s stakeholders.
It was revealed in the statement that the Minister, Mr Chris Ngige, said the meeting was called because of 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 was further quoted to have said that, “Our journey towards the resolution of the industrial disputes in the banking and financial sector begins in earnest.”
Mr Ngige noted that his intervention was to resolve the disputes in the overall interest of all Nigerians and not to witch-hunt anybody or organisation.
He pointed out that banks are not only to obey the Banks and Financial Institutions Act, but must also obey the all-encompassing laws of Nigeria, especially the labour laws because the banks cannot function without human beings.
According to him, “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.”
In their remarks, National President ASSBIFE, Comrade Sunday Salako; and his counterpart at BUBIFIE, Comrade Danjuma Musa, commended the Minister for his intervention, describing it as a welcomed development.