Labour suspends picketing of banks

Helen Shok Jok, Abuja

The Nigeria Labour Congress-NLC says it is suspending the proposed picketing of six banks over mass retrenchment of workers.

NLC President, Ayuba Wabba made this known at a joint press conference organised by the NLC, the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association-NECA and some representatives of the affected banks.

The NLC had issued a 14-day ultimatum to six banks to recall all sacked workers or face a nationwide industrial action.

The banks are Fidelity Bank, Diamond Bank, First City Monument Bank, First Bank, Ecobank and Skye Bank.

Bilateral meeting
Wabba said that the decision to call off the picketing was a follow-up to the public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Banks and Financial Institutions.

The Senate had asked the Ministry of Labour and Employment to convene a bilateral meeting and consultation in the best interest of the workers and the employers.

According to Wabba, “We have come to an agreement that everyone would attend the tripartite meeting that is being proposed by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, to look at auxiliary issues affecting the sector. We have also agreed as NLC, working with our affiliates, to suspend all forms of hostility, including the picketing, until the meeting takes place.”

“We have also looked at other related issues that include non-unionisation, issue of protection fees by some banks, among others.”

He further stated that, “All the parties had agreed that the tripartite meeting was necessary as it would take on board the interest of the workers as provided by the law under Section 20 of the Trade Union Act.

The law provides a forum for dialogue, consultation before any process would be concluded.”

“We have observed the challenge, especially the issue of the process, the procedure and the provision of the law,” the NLC President said.

Wabba noted that the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees had updated the Congress on how far they had gone with engagement with the affected banks.

“We have looked at the banks one after the other; some of them have not actually carried out those redundancies. They have assured us that all the processes of law would be followed; we have also advised them to interface with the in-house union, with a view to bringing the issues to a logical end,” Wabba said.

Also speaking, Mr Olusegun Oshinowo, the Director-General of NECA, called for dialogue as a way of resolving issues in the banking and financial institutions sector.

“The fact is that in employer and employees relationship, there will always be issues but the important thing is that when there are issues, there should be a structure and there should be an understanding among social partners. It is important for them to submit themselves to social dialogue and resolution to settle the disputes.” So, what NECA and NLC have demonstrated is that there are no issues that are too big for the two parties to sit down and resolve,” Mr Oshinowo.

Oshinowo commended the NLC for accepting NECA’s request, while suggesting that the basic issue of retrenchment and rationalisation in the banks should be resolved through social dialogue.