BY Busola Aro
Banks in Lagos have ignored the directive of the National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE) to join the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in its two-day strike action.
In a statement dated September 2, 2023, the NUBEFIE had directed all members to stay off duty during the two-day strike slated to begin on Tuesday, September 5.
On September 1, the NLC announced plans to embark on a nationwide strike to protest the hike in petrol pump price, and electricity tariff, alongside other issues; and accused the federal government of abandoning negotiations.
The congress also said the government had failed to implement some of the resolutions reached at previous meetings.
On Tuesday, TheCable observed that some banks were open for normal business operations, following visits to several branches in Lagos to ascertain the level of compliance with the directive.
Our reporters, who monitored the event, said banks in the Alimosho, Ikorodu, and Agege areas of Lagos were fully open to customers.
Branches of Keystone Bank, Zenith Bank, Access Bank, Union Bank, and First Bank, located in the Ogba axis of the state, were also operating at the time of the visit.
Speaking under anonymity, a Zenith Bank staff said workers did not get a directive from the management to stay at home.
“Joining the strike is strictly based on individual banks deciding to join or not. For us, the board never told us not to resume work on any of the days,” the bank official said.
Similarly, another staff from Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) said members of the union could choose whether or not to join the strike.
“If we join the strike, the economy would feel the impact. Also, the decision of the union is not affected. We can choose whether or not to join the strike,” the GTB staff said.
UBA ASKS STAFF TO ENSURE ATMs REMAIN FUNCTIONAL
In a mail seen by TheCable, the management of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) asked its workers to be safety cautious while commuting to work.
The bank also urged “staff members to ensure the continued functionality of our ATMs and all electronic channels throughout the strike”.
“Your personal safety is of the utmost importance to us. We kindly request that all employees exercise caution while commuting to work. This includes being vigilant, scanning your surroundings, and leaving for work with some extra time in hand to accommodate any potential disruptions,” the mail reads.
“To maintain efficiency, we encourage all staff members to work smartly and complete their tasks promptly to avoid unnecessary overtime during this period.
“We are committed to the safety of our staff and customers. Therefore, our branches have been instructed to maintain an enhanced security presence to promptly respond to any potential disruptions or security threats that may arise during the strike.”
‘NON-COMPLIANCE AT BANKS’ RISK’
Speaking on the noncompliance by some banks on Tuesday, Abakpa Anthony, president of NUBIFIE, said those not following the directives are doing so at their own risk.
“Yes, there are some banks that are not under the union but when trouble arises they run to the union. They know that this is not right but they’ve chosen to do what they want,” he said.
Speaking further on banks that ought to be in solidarity with the union, Anthony said “newly licenced banks such as Globus Bank and Lotus Bank are major members and they know what ought to be done”.
However, the union president said majority of insurance companies complied.
On Monday, the federal government made efforts to set a two-week timeline on wage awards, tax exemptions, and allowances to public sector workers to cushion the effect of the petrol subsidy removal as well as other demands.
The move was meant to avert the NLC strike.