by Tolu Orekoya
800 workers from the former Afribank Plc (now Mainstreet Bank) got their pink slips on Friday last week.
The firing came despite being told by the federal government and organised labour to keep staff on the payroll until disputes between management and staff were resolved. A few days earlier, discussions between the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, organised labour and the bank’s management over the “outstanding gratuity of staff of the defunct Afribank” according to the Vanguard newspaper, took place in Abuja.
On Monday the union requested that the fired staff be returned immediately to work, calling the dismissals illegal and carried out outside of the normal procedure. They threatened to bring the bank to a halt if the request was not granted.
Those fired were shut out of the bank’s computer network, and in some cases, out of their offices, and told to wait for the full details of their dismissal in an e-mail.
According to the Vanguard of the 800 dismissed members of staff, “over 650 were members of the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions, ASSBIFI, affiliated to the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, while the rest were members of the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Employees, NUBIFIE, affiliated to Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC.”
At a briefing, yesterday, Secretary-General of TUC, Chief John Kolawole, said: “The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) views this act of Management of Mainstreet Bank Ltd as the height of provocation and lawlessness which is condemnable. Consequently, TUC unequivocally states and demands the reversal of these terminations and other anti-labour acts immediately, failing which TUC will mobilise all its affiliates, allies and resources to shut down completely the operations of the bank nationwide.”
He added “We are therefore appealing to all well-meaning Nigerians, Hon. Minister of Labour and Productivity, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Director-General, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Cooperation (NDIC), The Managing Director, Asset Management Company of Nigeria(AMCON), Acting Inspector General of Police to prevail on the Management of the Bank before the bubble bursts.”