Nigerian Government to sanction financial institutions over retrenchment

Helen Shok Jok, Geneva

The Nigerian Government has warned managements of various financial institutions in the country to stop further retrenchment of workers to avoid being sanctioned.

Minister of Labour and Employment Dr Chris Ngige gave the warning in Geneva, Switzerland while addressing newsmen after the plenary session at the on-going 105th  session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) of the ILO.

Ngige was reacting to the sack and planned sack of workers by financial institutions in Nigeria.

“The federal government gave the licences to the banks to operate and if its directives are not adhered to the licenses will be withdrawn if the need arises,” he said.

The Director General of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association NECA Mr Segun Oshinowo, was quoted as saying that it was the inalienable right of an employer to determine the optimal staff level it requires to sustain its operations.

The minister had earlier directed Banks and Financial Institutions, to suspend retrenchment.

“We know what to do. After all the banks have the licenses given by the government. We know what to do. They need to comply.

“Financial institutions need to negotiate. We want them to maintain the status quo. As long as I remain the minister of labour, I will protect the interest of workers,”  the Minister said.

The Minister said that NECA was protecting the interest of the organised private sector and it has a right to air its opinion.

“They are the section that protect private investors. They are employers’ body and the people I am talking to are also employers. The banks’ boards, the banks’ chairmen and the banks’ Managing Directors,” the Minister said.

He said that the unions were also cautioned not to picket banks because of the retrenchment issue.

He said that any bank worker removed from work has about 10 members of family to cater for and the government would not want more people in the unemployment market insisting that employers, government and the union must negotiate before any retrenchment.

“ If you are going to lay off, there is a way to declare redundancy, there is a process. Section 20 of the labour Act says it. You must call the unions and discuss with them. You don’t just treat them as slaves in their own country,’’ Ngige said.

He also cautioned the managements of telecommunication companies, said to be compiling lists of staff they will retrench without discussing with anybody against such move.