Skye Bank ignores FG’s order, fires 175 workers

Timothy Oguntayo

The gale of retrenchment blowing across financial institutions in Nigeria hit 175 workers of Skye Bank Plc who were relieved of their jobs on Monday.

It comes in spite of a directive by the Federal Government that financial institutions should halt the ongoing retrenchment of staff.

Skye Bank confirmed the sack of the workers although it said that those affected failed the 2015 appraisal exercise.

A statement from the Timothy Oguntayo-led bank explained that a combination of factors was taken into consideration in the annual exercise, which ranged from low productivity to disciplinary issues, adding that the affected employees were duly exited in line with the bank’s staff exit policy.

The statement read in part: “The staff disengagement exercise is coming a year after the bank’s successful integration with the erstwhile Mainstreet Bank, which it acquired in October 2014; the integration exercise described by analysts as a landmark in Nigeria’s banking industry has significantly improved Skye Bank’s ICT capacity and helped strengthen the bank’s service delivery.

“The bank extended its appreciation to the affected staff for serving the bank, describing them as members of the family who will always be accorded deserving respect in their future dealings with the bank.”

Only last week, Diamond Bank Plc retrenched over 200 members of its workforce, while Ecobank Nigeria sacked over 1,040 of its employees, in response to the difficulties in the economy.

Worried about the trend, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, on Friday directed banks to stop the retrenchment exercise.

Ngige further directed that all the retrenchments done in the past four months should be put on hold pending the outcome of a proposed stakeholders’ summit for employers and employees of the banking, insurance and financial institutions scheduled for the first week of July.

“Following the high spate of petitions and complaints from stakeholders in the banking, insurance and financial institutions, I hereby direct the suspension of the ongoing retrenchment in the sector pending the outcome of the conciliatory meetings in the industry,” Ngige said.

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), however, over the weekend said the Federal Government was not in a position to order banks not to disengage staff.

It said Ngige’s directive to banks to halt further sack of workers was faulty.

NECA, through its Director General, Olusegun Oshinowo, therefore, told banks, financial institutions and other employers of labour to ignore the directive.

Skye Bank responded by firing 175 workers on the first day of business for the week.