Over 900 workers who were laid off work by Ecobank Nigeria, yesterday disrupted services at the headquarters of the bank in Victoria Island as they refused to meet with top management of the bank in the absence of its chief executive, Patrick Akinwuntan.
National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE) on yesterday picketed the headquarters of Ecobank Plc on Ahmadu Bello way, Victoria Island in Lagos over alleged non-payment of severance allowance to over 900 staff who were sacked by the bank recently.
Some of the staff who said they had worked with the bank for up to 12 years said they got only N120,000 as severance benefits.
According to Leadership Newspaper, efforts by some top management of the bank to meet with the union and aggrieved members was abortive as the union insisted on having a sit-down only with the managing director and chief executive, Patrick Akinwuntan.
According to NUBIFE, over 900 members of staff were relieved by the bank last week and replaced with the same number almost immediately.
However, the bank said the aggrieved workers were not in the employ of the bank but were hired by an agency and the bank had decided not to renew the contract of its third party recruitment agencies which expired recently.
The bank in a statement issued said, “Ecobank Nigeria did not disengage its staff. The bank decided not to renew the contract of its third party recruitment agencies which expired recently and as such returned this category of personnel back to these agencies who are their employers.
“As a demonstration of the bank’s concern and compassion for the affected personnel of our contractors, palliative measures were put in place by the bank to cushion the effect on them: These include payment of contract cessation packages of over half a billion naira already paid through their employers as well as opportunity given to those with requisite qualification to apply to the bank for permanent employment.
“In addition, the bank has offered them the opportunity to become Xpress point agents of Ecobank as a way of further providing them entrepreneurial and financial empowerment. May we state that Ecobank is not obligated to renew its contract with the service providers involved.
“As part of the bank’s business strategy, the bank is investing in the employment of full time graduates and as such over 300 graduates are currently undergoing training at the bank’s state- of-the- art academy which was recently accredited by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria. They are to be absorbed into the system at the end of their training as permanent staff.
“The bank would continue to align its people composition, development, recognition and rewards to position us as best practice service model in the industry, delivering superior customer service and experience across our network.”
As at press time, the workers and union members continued to restrict access to the head office of the bank blocking the two entrances to the building and trapping both staff and customers.
The union vowed to continue the action until their demands of a better pay off package is met by the Akinwuntan – led bank.