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Labour threatens to shut down banks

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The Organised labour has threatened to shut down banking operations nationwide by March 31, 2020 if employers in banking sector did not review the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in line with extant law.

Labour unions, under the aegis of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE) and Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), have put plans together to ground the sector in April if employers fail to agree to the bargaining terms.

National President, ASSBIFI, Oyinkan Olasanoye, while addressing journalists yesterday, said there had been a deliberate disrespect of human rights by some of the employers (banks) contrary to the provision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchored Principle Three of Nigeria Sustainable Banking Principles (July 2012).

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The unions, which had earlier threatened to embark on strike in January but with the intervention of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who called for a meeting for the unions to give more time, said: “At that meeting, we were given till March 31 to conclude all issues on the collective bargaining, and from our angle as employees, we have prepared our documents but it saddens our hearts that till now, employers have not called us and there has never been any meeting. On March 13, we were with the Minister of Labour and we called his attention to it that if by March 31 the banking employers did not come to the table, we will go back to our strike threat.”

Olasanoye, who said the unions had been stretched beyond limit, lamented that despite the fact that the union as a reasonable trade union had continued to use dialogue option, the employers have been reluctant and refused to come to the negotiation table for a review of the expired collective agreement for the industry since 2007 as per provisions of Wages Board and Industrial Council Acts of 1973.

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She noted that several letters had been written to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) quoting the banking principle guidelines and sections of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) law where every sector is entitled to a collective agreement.

According to her, our pain is not only on redundancy but also on procedural issues, which have to do with medical care, stating that it was only HIV that was mentioned in the previous guideline.

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But with the Coronavirus disease and other many viral diseases that were not put into consideration, the need for collective agreement, Olasanoye said, was pertinent.

She said: “We have discussed with TUC and NLC, which are our parental bodies, and since we are still in March, let us wait and see maybe the employers have agreed to our terms. But if nothing is done till March 31, there will be a world press conference organised by NLC, TUC, NUBIFIE and ASSBIFI, after that we will shut down financial institutions in the country in April.”

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