First Bank of Nigeria Plc has debunked an alleged plan to sack over 1,000 of its core workers without following due process.
This followed the threat by organised labour to shut down the operations of the financial institution.
The bank said the affected workers in its planned staff rationalisation are not core workers but those on contract and deployed by another firm.
The financial institution insisted that it followed due process in the exercise. Reacting on behalf of First Bank, Managing Director of the contracting firm, a human resource outsourcing company, Whyte Cleon Limited, Nireti Adebayo said the bank did not contravene the labour laws in disengaging the workers.
Adebayo said the company met all indices and requirements for carrying out the exercise.
She denied the accusations by the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE) on the sack. The company chief said the firm did not receive any letter from the Ministry of Labour and Employment on the matter.
On the alleged violation of labour laws, Adebayo said: “That is not true. I am just hearing it for the first time. I am not aware of any meeting from the Labour Ministry and unions. No letter was written to us.”
Asked if workers had been issued the retrenchment letters and on what terms, Adebayo said she was at a meeting and promised to respond to the questions later.
Also, NUBIFIE, which is holding First Bank responsible for the sack, said it would force the bank to respect labour laws.
The union said the financial institution must adhere to guidelines and negotiate good severance packages before sacking workers.
NUBIFIE President Anthony Abakpa said the union had written to all labour centres, including the Ministry the Labour and Employment, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Association of Senior Staff of Banks Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI) on the matter.
“We believe in dialogue and collective agreement. Anything that is alien will be unacceptable because we will not support plans that will not be in the interest of workers,” he said.
Abakpa added: “We have also communicated with our sister union in the bank, the ASSBIFI, so that all of us will be on the same page.
“The ministry has promised to call the bank for a meeting. We got to know that they said the number is not up to 1,000. But they are not denying that they have it in the pipeline to sack workers at this period of the year. We considered this unacceptable, most especially without carrying the union along.”
The union leader said if the bank sacks the workers, NUBIFIE would shut down the bank indefinitely.
“How will a bank just go ahead and sack workers without due process and without following the labour laws? If they do anything without following the labour laws, it is an infringement on the rights of the workers and we are going to act swiftly,” Abakpa said.
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