The situation paralysed activities at the bank for several hours, as the aggrieved union officials refused customers entry into banking hall for any business transactions.
Mr Biodun Bakare, Lagos state secretary of AUPCTRE, an affiliate of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), said the union resorted to such action because the bank refused to offset a sum of N1.8bn outstanding arrears of emoluments due 1,100 AUPCTRE members. He alleged that the money had been paid by the government of Anambra state for workers of the state’s Water Corporation and Environment Protection Agency for eight years, but the bank refused to disburse. “They have been owing our members working with Anambra state water corporation salaries and allowances for eight years,” he said.
“On this, our union took the Anambra state government and the bank to court, and the government said they have paid the said money to First Bank for onward disbursement to the workers. “The court ruled on July 14, 2014, that this money should be disbursed to the account of these employees.
But since that time, nothing has been done. “First Bank assured us that it was fashioning out strategies for the payment and 22 days later nothing had been done. We gave them seven days ultimatum, and after the expiration of the ultimatum, the bank is yet to pay.” Bakare further said that all branches of First Bank across the nation were barricaded by the union following the expiration of the ultimatum on August 12.
“Workers have suffered enough for the past eight years and should be paid,” he said. “The union would not guarantee industrial peace in all the branches of the bank across the country until the workers are paid.” NAN reported that members of the union were chanting different songs of solidarity, carrying placards with different inscriptions, such as “Stop trading with our workers wealth’’, “Life is more important’’, “Our members are dying’’, and “Release their money in your custody with interest’’.
Reacting, Mrs Efeturi Doghudje of First Bank’s corporate communications department, said the management would issue a statement later to address the matter.