SACKED workers of former Oceanic Bank Plc, especially the contract staff yesterday led a protest to the bank’s corporate head office, expressing their grievance at the disparity in their severance package.
Besides, the rising level of unemployment in the banking industry has become a source of concern for industry experts, considering the fate of workers in the nationalized banks, which will soon be up for sale to intending investors.
The sacked workers explained that the severance package that the bank offered them was unacceptable, adding that the representatives who had gone to negotiate on their behalf had compromised.
One of the affected workers, said: “We are not saying that we are not leaving their job. What we want is for them to pay us the right severance package. They are offering us (contract staff) N38, 000 for one year, which means one will get N38, 000 multiplied by the number of years one has worked for the bank. It is unfair, what am I going to do with that. While they are giving us this little amount, some of the professional staff got N38m and some got N28m.”
On its part, the bank in a statement said that “as a responsible employer, Ecobank Nigeria (“the Bank”) invited discussions regarding the impact of the integration of Oceanic Bank with both the National Union and Union representatives at the local level. The Bank then opened full negotiations with the Union on behalf of all of their members working for both Oceanic Bank and Ecobank Nigeria.
“Following these negotiations, agreements were reached between the Unions and the Bank, and the Unions and the Outsourced Service Provider, on a package that would ensure that all disengaged staff were treated fairly and in line with industry best practice. The Bank also undertook that all affected personnel would have the opportunity of engagement with the new providers. For all staff taking up this offer, service continuity would be guaranteed”, the bank added.
Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Jibril Aku, commented: “We engaged in negotiations with representatives of our unionized employees in good faith and sought, as we always do, to maintain positive industrial relations. We view with grave concern the actions taken by employees of the outsourced company, aimed at disrupting services to our customers. The Bank has taken, and will continue to take, all legal steps to ensure that the interests of its staff, customers and other stakeholders are protected.”
The bank had earlier in the week relieved some staff of Oceanic bank Plc of their appointments in the merged entity, especially those that joined the bank after Ecobank Plc took over the defunct Oceanic International Bank.
The sack is coming at a time when Access Bank Plc recently laid off some staff of the defunct Intercontinental bank.
Precisely, the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) earlier in the week announced that it has concluded plans to commence the sale of the three nationalised banks this month.
They are Mainstreet Bank, Keystone Bank and Enterprise Bank. They were created out of the former Afribank, Bank PHB and Spring Bank whose licences were revoked by the CBN after failing to meet the deadline for rescued banks to recapitalise.
Already, Enterprise Bank Limited, formerly Spring Bank Plc, one of the nationalised banks, recently the appointment of 140 of its employees, whose performance fell below satisfactory level, an option to resign.
The bank had earlier introduced the implementation of a performance-based compensation system, which entailed the inclusion of a variable pay among members of staff.
One of the main reasons attributed to the downsizing in the sector is the inability of the merged entities to maintain the same branch of their banks in the same area with the acquired entity, in order to reduce the overhead cost of running the branches.
When contacted, the President, Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), Mr Sunday Salako told The Guardian that the association has no issue with the bank as regards the resolve of the bank too reduce its staff strength.
According to him, the banks had negotiated with the sacked workers and thus leave no need for agitation on part of the union.