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Govt threatens to sanction financial institutions over sack of workers

The Federal Government has warned the management of financial institutions and telecommunication companies in the country to stop further retrenchment of workers without following due process.

Sen. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, gave the warning in Geneva while addressing newsmen on the sidelines of the on-going 105th session of the International Labour Conference (ILO).

“The Federal Government gave the licences to the banks to operate and if its directives are not adhered to the licences will be withdrawn if the need arises,“ he said.

Ngige was reacting to a statement by the Director General of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, Mr Segun Oshinowo, who was quoted as saying that it was the inalienable right of an employer to determine the optimal staff level it requires to sustain its operations.

The minister had earlier directed banks and financial institutions, to suspend further retrenchment of workers following reports that some of them have embarked on that.

“We know what to do. After all the banks have the licences given by the government. We know what to do. They need to comply.

“Financial institutions need to negotiate. We want them to maintain the status quo. As far as I am the minister of labour I will protect the interest of workers’’ the Minister said.

He said NECA was protecting the interest of the organised private sector and it has a right to air its opinion.

“They are the sections that protect private investors. They are the employers’ body and the people I am talking to are also employers. The banks’ boards, the banks’ chairmen and the banks’ managing directors,’’ the minister said.

He said that the unions were also cautioned when necessary and that he had directed the union not to picket the banks because of the retrenchment issue.

He said that any bank worker removed from work had about 10 members of family to cater for and the government would not want more people in the unemployment market.

He said that employers, government and the union must negotiate before any retrenchment.

“If you are going to lay off there is a way to declare redundancy, there is a process. Section 20 of the labour Act says it. You must call the unions and discuss with them. You don’t just treat them as slaves in their own country,’’ Ngige said.

He also cautioned the managements of telecommunication companies, said to be compiling lists of staff they will retrench without discussing with anybody, against such action.

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