Posted by By Omoh Gabriel & Victor Ahiuma-Young on
FIRST Bank Plc last Thursday terminated the employment of 450 of its employees on account of old age and declining productivity.
FIRST Bank Plc last Thursday terminated the employment of 450 of its employees on account of old age and declining productivity. But the bank's in-house union has alleged that over 1200 of its members, including three union leaders, were sacked.
Explaining the position of the bank, Mr. Jide Ogundele, Manager, Corporate Affairs of First Bank, said that as a result of the on-going restructuring and transformation in the bank, the 450 employees were laid off on account of old age and declining productivity.
According to him, the disengaged staff will be paid off with one year salary, given their gratuities, and be entitled to full pension. He said that the exercise was done on an objective criteria and the affected union members could not have been exempted from the laid down criteria for laying off staff. He said that the bank has recruited 850 fresh graduates into its employment.
Meanwhile, Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), an umbrella body for senior staff in the bank, has fixed a meeting of its National Executive Council (NEC) to plan strategies and action on how to confront the bank’s management and has in the interim advised the management of the bank to set aside the mass sack and appealed to well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the bank to recall the sacked workers to avoid unwarranted confrontation with organised Labour.
According to the union, though the management of the bank did not state the reasons for the mass purge, a sample of a severance letter to the affected workers, which was signed by the Head, Human Capital Management, Olufunlola Ologunde, read: "We write to advise that with effect from April 1, 2005, your appointment with the bank is severed. In view of this, arrangements have been made to pay you the following entitlements- One month’s salary in lieu of notice, gratuity, as and when due and pension, in line with the new Pension Reform Act 2004.
"In addition, in recognition of the years of service you have put into the bank, management has approved an incentive package of 100 per cent of your annual salary and allowances, net of all indebtedness. You are also to surrender the bank’s identity card and any other property in your possession to your branch manager\head department. We thank you for your service to the bank, and wish you the best in your future endeavours".
Reacting to the mass sack in a statement, Secretary-General of ASSBIFI, Comrade Javis E Erhomosele, alleged that the management of the bank has since December 6, 2004 been deliberately confronting the labour force by all means in its powers.
According to him: "All our efforts at fostering cordial and harmonious industrial relationship between our two institutions at all levels appear to be dwarfing by the day due to management’s open and incessant confrontations, which leaves much to be desired. On December 6, 2004, management completely disregarded the provisions of the industry standards, practice and procedure and laid off hundreds of employees who are our members. Our mature and purposeful interventions through persuasive communications and meetings with management yielded no result".
The statement noted ASSBIFI had equally written to employers' body in the industry, Nigeria Employers’ Association of Banks, Insurance and Allied Institutions (NEABIAI) for intervention to no avail.
"At a particular point that we expected amicable resolutions of the unilateral staff rationisation of 6-12-04, and despite management’s request that we should allow them to resolve with the domestic unit of our association, it decided on March 31 , 2005 to carry out yet another round of mass sack in the name of staff rationisation, which now swept away over a thousand union members, including three heads of the domestic Executive Committee".
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