Despite assurances last Thursday by the Bankers Committee which comprising Chief Executives of banks across the country that it will reduce the mass sack in the country, there is lack scale apprehension in the sector over who’s next to get the sack hammer.
According to the Managing Director of Standard Chartered Bank, Bola Adesola who briefed journalists at the end of the Nigerian Bankers’ Committee at their 327th meeting, “We have noted the market sentiments and am sure that going forward, it will be different but as I said, we must recognise also that there would be reasons why people would leave and it is not just in the banking industry- telecoms and other sectors have had this type of situation before but it is something that we would manage.”
The mass sack in the banking sector in the last four months was so pervasive that the federal government had to wade in to reduce the number of those who were being thrown into a labour market already swarming with millions of unemployed youths.
Already, there are reports of massive job loss in the construction, hotel aviation sectors amongst others. Arresting another mass retrenchment seems the best way out for the federal government which had promised massive job opportunities to unemployed youths as part of its election campaign promises.
The Minister of labour and Employment, Chris Ngige in a statement he personally signed on June 3 said, “Following the high spate of petitions and complaints from stakeholders in the Banking, Insurance and Financial Institutions, I hereby direct the suspension of the on-going retrenchment in the sector pending the outcome of the conciliatory meetings in the industry.”
The federal government had predicated its directive Section 20 of the Labour Act says which places emphasis on the need to call the unions and discuss with them before embarking on such mass retrenchment. It argued that the continued retrenchment and redundancy by the banks and other financial institutions are jeopardizing the outcome of the conciliatory and mediatory processes being undertaking by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“You don’t just treat them as slaves in their own country and you want us to keep quiet,” the minister argued.
Apparently irked by the disregard for the earlier directive, Ngige while addressing journalists immediately after his speech to the ILO Assembly, said: “We will go a step further if they continue. We know what to do. After all, the banks have the licenses given by the government. We know what to do. They need to comply. They need to come to the negotiation table.”
However, the Director-General of Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Mr. Segun Osinowo, who reacted almost immediately to the Minister’s directive, said the Minister was not only ignorant of labour laws, but also reckless in arrogating the powers of the Federal Government to himself.
“The minister cannot force on himself the entire sovereign power of the federal government in giving directive. I really find it reckless for the minister at this age and time, will be threatening employers with withdrawal of licence,” he said.
Oshinowo appeared to be sharing the sentiments of some who argued that the government cannot “just order the bank to stop retrenchment”. Some bank executives have in private conversations shared this sentiments, accusing the government of “playing needless politics with the issue of mass sack in the banking sector.”
Bank officials argued that the mass sack is a natural reaction to the economic situation of the country, faulting the government for attempting to stop the ongoing sack.
About two months ago, the First Bank of Nigeria also pruned down its workforce, saying that the job cut was necessitated by the “very bad” 2015 earnings, which saw the bank’s profit slump.
Speaking to Bloomberg in Lagos, Adesola Adeduntan, the CEO of First Bank of Nigeria, said: “We do not shy away from taking difficult decisions. We used to have above 8,000 people. We’ll push it down, gradually, to 7,000.”
It would be recalled that the mass sack commenced with the retrenchment of over 1,300 workers by Ecobank and Diamond Bank.
In the first quarter of 2015, Diamond Bank sacked over 1,000 workers in what it dubbed as a realignment of its operations for a tougher 2015.
Both the government and the Bank CEOs indeed are in a dilemma on the war forward.
Source : Leadership