Thousands of staff of First Bank of Nigeria, FBN, have been laid-off by the bank.
Investigations reveals that the bank, which began the discreet sack action in August, in virtually all the branches nationwide, targets mostly contract staff that had spent nine years with the bank.
TheNewsGuru.com reports that this is due to a labour law which allows for the automatic absorption of contract staff that had spent 10 years with an organisation.
Further findings reveals that the employees initially got their dismissal notification via text messages especially on Fridays, usually after 8pm when the staff had left for home.
This was even as the bank has clarified that it does not owe contract staff any obligations outside the terms that guide employment of contract staff.
However, in another twist, an employee with one of the Lagos branches of the bank who identified himself as Shola said he was laid off on Monday (today) morning without any prior notification.
Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, First Bank, Dr. Adesola Kazeem Adeduntan
According to Shola: “I got to the office this morning (Monday) and log into my system. I later went downstairs to pick a file. However, on returning to my seat, I tried logging in but the system repeatedly displayed incorrect password. There was nothing to insinuate that I will lose my job this morning. No email, no text, no letter, nothing!,” Shola said shedding a tear despite manly efforts to hold it back.
Asked how it all began, another source said: “Actually it all started in August. We noticed that after a hard day’s work, some staff received messages asking them not to resume again. This happened from the first Friday in August, (4th) all through to the last and the trend continued till this September. There was no reason given for the sudden termination of appointment. Up till now, no official of the bank spoke to any of us. When mine happened, I went to the Branch Manager and they told me he is not around. I left the bank premises this morning in dejection. I wasn’t even paid for the half month job that I have done.”
It was gathered that majority of the affected staff were recruited through Insourcing Limited, a former subsidiary of the First Bank Group. However, since it folded up, another outsourcing company, took over.
However, an unconfirmed report, alleges that the wife of a top management staff of First Bank plc is a major shareholder of the new outsourcing company, hence, the decision to wipe out all old contract staff who were employed by Insourcing Limited, to be replaced by new ones under the new outsourcing firm’s direct management.
Another staff affected by the sack told a reporter that recently the bank asked them (the old contract staff) to train some new employees. He said while they (the old contract staff) took it as just a routine training, the management of the bank did not. He noted that the newly trained employees were now the ones who took over their jobs.
“Recently, the management approved the training of some new employees by us (the old contract staff). We actually thought the bank was expanding and gladly trained the new employees on the use of some soft wares and gadgets. However, we didn’t see the handwriting on the wall. Now that we have been laid off, the newly trained guys are carrying on with our roles effortlessly,” he said.
Another disengaged staff of the bank outside Lagos who spoke with a reporter on phone said when she got to the bank last Friday, she was asked to submit her identity card, token and other properties of the bank with her. She said she couldn’t fathom what rule she broke to warrant such unceremonious exit from a job she has spent close to 10 years on.
“I got to the office this morning and the branch management asked me to drop my identity card and token. I was shocked because I couldn’t recollect what offence I committed to warrant me losing my job in just a twinkle of an eye. Even if the bank wants to disengage me from its service, I think I deserve some compensation because I’ve also added unquantifiable values to the bank since I joined in 2008,” she said.
Further investigations reveals that so far, over a thousand staff (ranging from tellers to customer care officers) have been affected by the recent sack action in the bank.
A reporter gathered as well that the affected staff were not paid any severance package after their layoff.
The affected staff have however vowed to seek redress in court. “The bank can’t just lay us off like this after almost 10 years of emotional and physical investments. It is uncalled for. We are consulting widely and the lawyers are giving us legal backing. Soonest the bank will hear from us,” one of the affected staff told a reporter.
Efforts by a reporter to reach the corporate affairs division of the bank and the new outsourcing firm were not successful as at the time of filing this report.