Some workers with Access Bank Plc have protested against the alleged termination of their contracts and non-payment of their entitlements.
The workers, who protested at the bank’s head office in the Victoria Island area of Lagos State on Wednesday, carried placards depicting their agitations.
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 the bank of terminating the contracts of over 2,000 workers without paying their entitlements.
Some of the workers, who spoke to PUNCH Metro, said trouble started on April 31, 2020, when the bank laid some staff off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was gathered that the bank recalled the workers after the intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Government.
Our correspondent was told that though the workers were recalled, they were asked to stay away from the office, as the bank continued to pay their salaries.
However, events took another turn on November 30, 2020, when some of them were served with letters terminating their appointments from their various outsourcing firms.
One of the protesters, Akintayo Akinyemi, who told our correspondent that the bank was in dialogue with the National Union of Banks Insurance and Financial Institution Employees, noted that the bank shifted the discussion till December 11 on purpose.
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 worker, Solomon Oropo, alleged that the bank’s outsourcing firms paid the workers N11,500 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 staff 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.”
One of the workers, Olatunji Abubakar, who accused the 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.”
their outsourcing firms.
The bank’s Head of Media Relations, Abdul Imoyo, told our correspondent that the protest was an appeal to the bank to intervene in the decision of the outsourcing companies.
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.”