Association Of Senior Staff Of Banks, Insurance And Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), has condemned the disengagement and refusal to settle severance benefits of its over 30 exited members by the management of Heritage Bank.
It also said the decision was an outright violation of Section 20 of the Labour Act.
The troubled bank has been in the news for the wrong reasons recently and the once-bubbling Heritage Bank may go under if nothing is quickly done by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). This is because in less than one year after assuming office as Heritage Bank’s chief executive officer, Mr. Akinola George-Taylor forcefully booted out over 70 senior staff members of the bank, while a number of others were asked to resign plunging the bank in further crisis. More worrisome was the fact that the affected staff were disengaged without paying them their accrued entitlements and allowances.
The internal crisis allegedly instigated by the new bank chief was in an attempt to rid the bank of those suspected to be loyalists of some board members, and employ his own people. The move, sources disclosed, were unconnected with the new bank chief’s plan to oust some board members who are said to be at loggerheads with him, from the bank. The bank’s chief was said to be enjoying the support of a top shareholder of the bank whom sources say is allegedly determined to solely take over the bank and get rid of the owners.
Speaking, Comrade Olusoji Oluwole, president of ASSBIFI, at a press briefing in Lagos at the weekend, said the management of Heritage Bank, after three months, has refused any dialogue with the union as provided by law, by insisting to have terminated the workers’ appointment based on their company policy.
Oluwole, emphasised that the union will not allow the unfair labour practices being perpetrated against hardworking and struggling Nigerian workers employed in Heritage Bank PLC, especially the over 30 members of ASSBIFI, including a principal national officer of the association in May, 2023 without due process to continue without recourse to due process
He said: “ASSBIFI will deploy all its networks and contacts to mobilise affiliate trade unions and Nigerian workers towards protecting the rights and privileges of our members in Heritage Bank PLC., over outright violation of Section 20 of the Labour Act, Cap L1, LFN 2004, the ASSBIFI Industry Wide Collective Agreement, and the ILO Convention 158 on Termination of Employment.
“Our frustration trying to amicably settle the myriad of unfair labour practices that the management of Heritage Bank has continually perpetrated on vulnerable Nigerian workers.
“This action was condemned by ASSBIFI as an outright violation of Section 20 of the Labour Act, Cap L1, LFN 2004, the ASSBIFI Industry Wide Collective Agreement, and the ILO Convention 158 on Termination of Employment, which specifically provided that “the employment of a workers hall not to be be terminated unless there is a valid reason for such termination”.
“This has been rightly recognised by the National Industrial Court (NIC), and we abide with it.
He specifically said: “As the Statutory Representative of Senior Employees in the Nigeria Financial Sector, and in line with our policy on social dialogue, ASSBIFI engaged the management of Heritage Bank on several occasions to demand justice for the vulnerable Nigerian workers’ whose employments were wrongfully terminated.
“The management insisted to have terminated the workers based on their company policy, without negotiation or dialogue with the Union as provided by law.
“ASSBIFI requested the Management of the Bank to supply the Company Policy and Details of the claimed payments and settlements of the severance benefits paid to the disengaged Employees.