Some Access Bank staff who were laid off protest at the bank’s head office in Victoria Island, Lagos, on Wednesday.
The protest was against the alleged termination of contracts and non-payment of entitlements. The laid-off staff made know their agitations through their various placards.
Some of the placards read, “Stop Access Bank brutality. More than 2,000 sacked”, “Access, pay us our entitlements”, “What does the future hold for support staff?”, “Stop enslaving Nigerians in their country”.
The workers accused Access bank of terminating more than 2,000 workers without paying them their entitlements.
It should be recalled that the bank laid off some staff during the heat of COVID-19 in April before the Central Bank of Nigeria intervened and halt the process following a nationwide outcry.
However, some of the laid of staff explained to the media that the trouble started on April 31, 2020 when the bank laid off some of their staff due to the global health pandemic.
One of the laid of staff, (name withheld) explained that though Access Bank obeyed CBN, recalled the staff and continued to pay their salaries, they requested them to stay away from the office.
However, the situation changed on November 30, 2020, when some staff were served termination letters through their various outsourcing firms.
Mr. Akintayo Akinyemi one of the protesters said that Access Bank is in dialogue with the National Union of Banks Insurance and Financial Institution Employees.
He said, “Now that they said they don’t want us anymore, we’re entitled to gratuities. If they are saying we should go, then they should pay our entitlements, and that’s what we’re fighting for.
“The bank already scheduled a meeting with our union for December 11. They shifted the meeting to that time because of what they planned to do.
“We want them to pay our entitlements; they should pay us off so that we can do something with our lives. I’m in my mid-thirties and I have been applying for jobs since then, but they have been turning me down because of my age. I cannot get a valid job anymore. I have put about 10 years into the system and I was laid off just like that”.
Another laid-off staff, Solomon Oropo, said that they were paid N11,500 by the bank’s outsourcing firms for terminating their appointments.
He said, “Our salaries were being paid till November 30 when we received letters that our services were no longer needed and after that, they paid us N11,500 for terminating the contracts. So, what they’re paying as gratuity is N11,500 and that was what led to this protest.
“Our union had been having meetings with the bank and the bank denied sacking us. There are staffs that have been working for 20 years and below and many of us are above 40 with family and they are paying us N11,500 in lieu of notification and that’s all. We see it as dubious and uncalled for and we say no to it. They cannot use our youthful age and ask us to go home with N11,500”.
Mr Olatunji Abubakar, another protester, accused Access bank of demoting some of the staff after merging with Diamond Bank, said, “when Access Bank took over from Diamond Bank, all the office assistants working under Diamond Bank were demoted to security guards on the grounds that they don’t have office assistants in Access Bank and our salaries were pushed to different security firms.
“We went to the security firms for documentations and we were not given any offer letters until when we were disengaged last month without any benefit. I worked with Diamond Bank for 10 years before we came to Access Bank. This has affected me in many ways because I don’t know where to go or start from”.
However, in all this Access bank denied laying off its staff and claimed the termination of appointment was done by their outsourcing firms.
Abdul Imoyo, Access bank’s Head of Media Relations, explained that the protest was an appeal to the bank to intervene in the decision of the outsourcing firms.
He said, “It was not Access Bank that sacked them. The protest was about them calling on Access Bank to intervene in the termination of their appointments with their employers. It is about their relationship with their employers and because they work for Access Bank, they’re asking Access Bank to intervene and we have called their employers.
“There’s an ongoing process to get this resolved. They are not happy with what their employers did and they escalated their grievances beyond their employers. Their employers said they were paid based on their different levels of engagements and terms of the agreements.
“We’re going to engage their employers and see how we can manage their dispute. We need to investigate what happened between them and their employers and resolve all issues.
Nigerian Banks’ Borrowings from CBN Surge 835% in a Month, Raising Liquidity Concerns
The Nigerian banking sector has witnessed an unprecedented 835% surge in borrowings from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the span of just one month, igniting concerns over the nation’s liquidity stability.
Data reveals that banks’ dependence on the CBN has reached new heights, with their borrowings skyrocketing from a relatively modest N323.97 billion in August to N3.03 trillion in September. This remarkable increase underscores a growing reliance on the CBN’s support in times of financial stress.
This surge in borrowing activity has primarily been attributed to the CBN’s stringent monetary policies aimed at curbing inflation and managing the demand for foreign exchange. These policies have, in turn, squeezed commercial banks, compelling them to tap into the CBN’s Standing Lending Facility (SLF) for immediate liquidity needs.
Despite the escalating dependence on CBN funds, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the apex bank insists that the Nigerian banking sector remains fundamentally robust. MPC member Adenikinju Festus highlighted key indicators, including Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) and Non-Performing Loan (NPL) ratios, which still align with prudential standards. Furthermore, liquidity ratios have improved, and returns on equity and assets have risen.
However, the banking industry’s persistently high operating costs are raising alarms. In comparison to international standards, Nigerian banks are grappling with substantially higher operating expenses, prompting concerns about their long-term sustainability.
In a parallel development, the CBN’s Development Finance Department has disbursed a total of N9.714 trillion to various sectors of the economy over the past three years, with manufacturing and industries receiving the largest share at 32.6%.
Other sectors, including energy, agriculture, services, micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), export, and health, have also benefited significantly from these disbursements.
While the CBN remains committed to fostering sustainable economic growth, the surging dependence of Nigerian banks on short-term borrowings from the central bank is casting shadows on the sector’s long-term stability.
As Nigeria grapples with these liquidity concerns, the financial industry and regulators face the challenging task of charting a course towards a more resilient and sustainable banking environment.
Central Bank of Nigeria Postpones 293rd Monetary Policy Committee Meeting
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced the postponement of its 293rd Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting, originally scheduled for September 25th and 26th, 2023.
Dr. Isa AbdulMumin, the bank’s Director of Corporate Communications, released a statement on Thursday confirming the decision.
In the statement, Dr. AbdulMumin stated, “The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria has deferred its 293rd meeting, which was initially planned for Monday and Tuesday, September 25th and 26th, 2023, respectively. A new date will be communicated in due course. We regret any inconvenience this change may cause our stakeholders and the general public.”
While the CBN did not provide an official reason for the postponement, some industry experts suggest it may be related to the pending approvals for the newly appointed governor and deputy governors of the bank.
President Bola Tinubu recently nominated Yemi Cardoso as the potential head of the CBN. Additionally, Tinubu has endorsed the nominations of four new deputy governors for the apex bank, who are expected to serve for an initial term of five years, pending confirmation by the Senate.
The nominated deputy governors are Emem Usoro, Muhammad Abdullahi-Dattijo, Philip Ikeazor, and Bala Bello. However, the appointment of the CBN governor is contingent upon Senate confirmation, which is currently on a yearly recess.
The CBN assures stakeholders and the public that the rescheduled MPC meeting date will be communicated promptly as soon as it is confirmed.
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