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Mass sack ofbank employees

Published by Nigerian Compass on Tue, 06 Mar 2012

THE Nigerian financial sector, specifically the banking industry, has in recent times been thrown into a state of anxious uncertainty following mass sack of bank employees. Deposit Money Banks in the country have embarked on massive lay-off of staff as part of belt-tightening measures aimed at cutting cost and maintaining trim staff strength. Worst hit by this development arefinancial institutionsdeemed unable to meet customer obligations and therefore had to be acquired by their more provident competitors or nationalised by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). But the issue of massive lay-off of bank personnel is by no means limited to insolvent banks. The drive towards a cashless economy, a recent key policy of the CBN which has been imposed on the financial sector, calls for leaner staff roll in many of the banks.The practical effect of this is that fewer hands will now be needed within the banking sector than was hitherto the case. For obvious and not too obvious reasons, however, not many of these banks have been forthcoming with actual figures of affected staff but the widely reported case of Access Bank where over 1,500 employees of Intercontinental Bank were recently sent into the unemployment market is a clear indication of the seriousness of the situation at hand.Access Bank which acquired Intercontinental Bank had on November 8, 2011 introduced a so-called Operation Just Cause (OPJ), a new appraisal system by which staff members were assessed. Those unable to meet the standard demanded by this new system were shown the way out. It is equally instructive to note that at least 140 employees of former Spring Bank Plc, now christened Enterprise Bank Limited after its nationalisation, were laid off in the second week of February 2012.Ecobank Transnational Incorporation which acquired Oceanic Bank International Plc has been silent on the number of staff it disengaged in the same week as Enterprise Bank Limited. Many more bank workers are expected to lose their jobs as more banks and financial institutions key into the new Central Bank policy of a cashless economy.In the three years since current CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, came into office, thousands of bank workers have lost their jobs in the immediate aftermath of the post-consolidation exercise initiated by the new CBN regime. Agreed, the consolidation exercise was aimed at restoring sanity and ensuring the entrenchment of best practices within the banking sector cannot be denied, but all the post-consolidation measures including the massive sack of workers should be executed with a human face, fair play, respect and consideration for affected workers while not discounting the requirements of Industrial Relations.Innocent employees should not be made to bear the brunt of corrupt and irresponsible bank management. The idea of sacking workers via sms text messages or blocking access codes to vital equipment is at once condemnable and reprehensible.The social effect of mass retrenchment of workers in terms of increase in violent crimes and general insecurity is one that should guide and dictate the implementation of the lay-off of bank workers. The workers should be provided soft and safe landing in a manner that cues them for new start in life.In this wise, the CBN, the Ministry of Labour and Productivity and, indeed, the National Union of Banks, Insurance and other Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE) have important mediatory roles to play. While looking to the sustenance of the banks, they should ensure workers are not left to the devices of insensitive bank management.The Nigerian Pension Commission (PENCOM) should on its part accelerate payment of pension of disengaged bank workers in order to cushion the effect of the loss of their jobs. This way, some sense of consideration and humanity would have been introduced into the entire lay-off saga.
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