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Labour demands legislation to regularise ‘non-permanent’ staff in banks

By Gloria Nwafor
29 March 2022   |   4:03 am
With the current review of the nation’s labour law, the organised labour has demanded a regulation manual to regularise ‘non-permanent’ staff of banks.

•As NUBIFIE elects new leaders 
With the current review of the nation’s labour law, the organised labour has demanded a regulation manual to regularise ‘non-permanent’ staff of banks.
 
Labour, under the auspices of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE) demanded that the law review should also toughen legislative sanctions on casualisation of labour.
   
President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, who said this at the 11th, 7th, Quadrennial Delegates Conference of NUBIFIE in Lagos, lamented the many unfriendly labour practices in the banking sector, some of which, he said, predated the COVID-19 pandemic. 
   


He said the congress and the leadership of NUBIFIE had beckoned on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Bankers’ Committee, seeking practical solutions to the dysfunctions in the system. 
 
Citing some instances, he said the last Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in the banking sub-sector was done in 2005.
 
According to him,  “The CBA was due for review in 2007. Our affiliates in the banking sector wrote to the CBN on the need to review the current CBA. Banks were also written to address the issues of CBA and ‘non-permanent’ staff in their payroll. Sadly, up till date, nothing concrete has come out of those engagements. 
 
“There is also the issue of subjecting bank workers to the stress and strain of outrageous deposit or investment targets. Such pressure has forced many bank workers into very unethical and immoral conduct just to satisfy the expectations of management.
 
“It is important to make the point loud and clear that these unfair, degrading and dehumanising culture that has become entrenched in our banking system is not only akin to “modern-day slavery” but are also against conditions precedent for banking operations license in Nigeria and certainly offensive to our culture and tradition and laws.”
   
However, Wabba, who was represented by the Deputy President of NLC, Joe Ajaero, said the congress’ intervention yielded some fruits as the Federal Ministry of Labour in 2020 set up two committees to address the unfriendly labour practices and concerns in the banking sub-sector.  
 
The first committee, he said, was saddled with developing modalities for the review of the subsisting CBA in the banking sub-sector while the second committee was to develop a regulation manual to address the ‘non-permanent’ staff of banks. 
 
He said the two committees on CBA and outsourced staff, chaired by the Minister of Labour and Employment and the Permanent Secretary respectively, have met a couple of times, expecting that the conclusion of the assignment of the two committees and the release of their reports to the public should be expedited.  
 
“Our expectation is that the report of these two committees should establish follow-up actions on CBN’s earlier directive to banks to shelve further sack of their staff and downward restructuring of wages through surveillance and stiff sanctions against erring banks; constitution of a Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) for immediate review of the CBA in the banking sector and demand on the CBN to issue a circular to all banks to desist from designating their employees as ‘non-permanent’ staff,” he said.

Similarly, in his opening remarks, National President of NUBIFIE, Anthony Abakpa, listed some of the challenges confronting the sector, among which is the Bank Employees Act Declaration of Assets. 
 
He said even as the union appreciates the rationale behind the review of the act, which is to enhance accountability, transparency, integrity and good corporate governance in the banking industry, some aspects of the amendment bill have been tendered to infringe on individual rights and liberty.
 
According to him, individuals, who are not employees of banks, such as children and spouses, among others, should not be subjected to any part of the act, simply because of an affinity to an employee of a bank. 
 
Meanwhile, the union at the conference elected new set of executives, whereby Abakpa was re-elected as National President; Chinedu Ogbonna, emerged as the Deputy National President; Francis Ndife (Deputy National President); Ibrahim Saidu (Vice President); James Yaro (Vice President); Onyekachi Emeka (National Treasurer); Femi Makindipe (National Trustee); Nkiru Ejim (National Trustee); Abubakar Gyang (National Auditor); Thomas Omoaka (National Auditor) and Stella Adu (Female Representative).