First Bank in conjunction with Whytecleon outsourcing company recently sacked more than 1000 contract staff, mhereby pushing them into the already flooded labour market.
This is fast becoming a trend for First Bank – they had conducted a similar exercise in August 2017 which affected about 2000 contract workers across the country. These workers had served the bank between 7 – 9 years, and were notified of the termination via sms. And they were not paid any severance benefit.
As the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE) accused First Bank of planning to sack their staff without following due process, the bank claimed the affected workers in its planned staff rationalisation are not core workers but those on contract and deployed by another firm.
The bank still went ahead to sack one batch of workers on the 21/11/2019 and terminated the appointments of yet another batch on 29/11/2019 without prior notice or any severance package.
The victims of the sack tried to get justice from the appropriate authorities but their case was never attended to. And the injustice and indiscriminate sack has continued.
Meanwhile, the financial institution insists that it followed due process in the recent exercise. Reacting on behalf of First Bank, the Managing Director of the contracting firm; a human resource outsourcing company, Whyte Cleon Limited, Nireti Adebayo said the bank did not contravene the labour laws in disengaging the affected workers.
Adebayo said the company met all indices and requirements for carrying out the exercise.
She denied the accusation by the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE) on the sack. The company chief said the firm did not receive any letter from the Ministry of Labour and Employment on the issue.
NUBIFIE, which is holding First Bank responsible for the sack, said it would force the bank to respect labour laws in this matter.
The union said the financial institution must adhere to guidelines and negotiate good severance packages before sacking workers.
“How will a bank just go ahead and sack workers without due process and without following the labour laws? If they do anything without following the labour laws, it is an infringement on the rights of the workers and we are going to act swiftly,” said Abakpa Anthony, the president of NUBIFIE.
The affected staff are bitter about the way the bank has treated them. A brief interview with one of them who chose to be anonymous, proved that Firstbank did not treat their contract staff fairly.
He said: “I and my ex-colleagues were very young and vibrant eight years ago when we were employed with Ordinary National Diploma certificate by Insourcing Nig Ltd( Whytecleon Outsourcing Ltd) and was deployed to FirstBank Nigeria Ltd as contract staff to work as bank tellers. As at then, First bank was in a very bad shape as their services were nothing to write home about because their workforce was constituted of middle-aged and aged staff who were so sluggish in rendering services to their numerous customers.
“As we came in, the bank was revived and the brand improved to the extent that their customers were so delighted in the new First bank. Business became good and they were making enormous profits through our energetic and passionate services: but we neither took part in their yearly profit sharing nor received the numerous allowances they paid their core staff.
“Even the salary was peanuts compared to what they paid their core staff but we kept managing and upgrading ourselves academically, hoping they will eventually convert us to their core staff as the management kept promising, only for them to yank us off their system empty-handed. Age limit is a serious barrier in getting jobs in Nigeria today. So, where do I start from?” he concluded.
A couple involved in the saga was in an emotional state as the only source of income for the entire family has been terminated at this critical time of scarcity of employment opportunities in the country coupled with this yuletide season.
It is almost the same story with all the victims. But the question remains; will NUBIFIE stand by their word and get the bank to at least pay them a severance package that will assist them start a new life.