FirstBank denies owing pensioners
Court orders parties to maintain status quo, adjourns case till Feb 19
THE management of FirstBank Plc has reacted to the picketing of some of its branches by some aggrieved pensioners on Monday. The bank denied owing any of its pensioners in any part of the country.
Meanwhile, a judge of the National Industrial Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, has ordered the pensioners and the bank officials to maintain status quo pending the determination of the substantive matter before it, a case instituted by the bank against the pensioners.
The Head of Media and External Relations of FirstBank Plc, Mr. Babatunde Lasaki, in an exclusive chat with The Guardian yesterday accused the workers of acting contrary to the orders of a court of law, by picketing some of the bank’s branches, despite a pending court hearing billed for yesterday.
Lasaki said the bank was not owing the pensioners and that the grouse they have with the management was their demand for 500 per cent increase in their statutory and medical allowances.
He added that the pensioners were told by the management that the economic situation in the country is not favourable and that it was not able to make such huge commitment at the moment, adding that when the economic situation improves in the country, management would consider their request.
He said despite all entreaties they went ahead to disrupt the bank’s services on Monday, notwithstanding a court case concerning the matter.
‘’The matter was heard today at the National Industrial Court, Ikoyi, and it was adjourned till February 19, 2016, which is next Friday. Not because of anything, but because their lawyers asked for more time to prepare his defence and the judge obliged accordingly,” Lasaki said.
‘’However, let me emphasize here that there was a distortion of facts as being presented by the pensioners. We are not owing them any allowance whatsoever, we always pay them as at when due, and in our own case, that has always been on or before 19th of every month, never later.
‘’They are seeking for a 500 per cent increment in their statutory allowances and their medicals, and the bank’s management has told them it is not feasible at the moment, due to the economic situation in the country.
‘’They refused all entreaties and the bank management instituted a case against them. Despite this however, they went ahead and picketed some of our branches after being served notice of an impending court case.”
An executive of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) who spoke with the reporter yesterday, agreed that his members knew about the court case and that they have been approached by the management to be patient till things get better.
He, however, added that the management of the bank has made many promises in the past, which were not fulfilled and so cannot be trusted.
‘’We worked for them for many years. We know them well. They are fond of making empty promises. That was why we picketed them.
‘’We shall meet on this latest development and make our decisions known in due time, court case or not.”