A coalition of civil society groups in the country has vowed to use all legal means necessary to fight Diamond Bank over its recent sacking of 400 workers.
The coalition, inan email sent to our correspondent on Friday by its spokesperson and National Coordinator, Citizens Rights and Leadership Awareness Initiative, Mr. Peter Nwokolo, accused the bank of not following due process as required by extant labour laws and international best practices in the disengagement of the workers.
The group had in a statement released earlier in the week accused the bank of falsehood, describing its explanation that the workers were sacked because of their non performance as a lie.
It said investigation showed that “most of the sacked workers had indeed obtained appraisal scores in excess of the recommended score of 50 per cent and above, going by the bank’s last performance index concluded in February 2016.”
Nwokolo, in his response to an email from Saturday PUNCH, said the bank was yet to respond to a letter sent to it by the group on July 11, which was addressed to its Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer.
He, however, vowed that should the group not hear from the bank on time, it “will take every measure within the ambit of the law to ensure that the rule of law prevails and that the sacked workers get their deserved pay off as required by relevant labour laws.”
“It is our considered view that Diamond Bank as a responsible corporate entity understands that they cannot afford to treat such a serious issue that concerns the welfare and well being of Nigerians under its employment with levity and so we expect that our demands should receive prompt and appropriate response,” he added in his email.
In its earlier statement, the group had called on Diamond Bank to immediately “engage the sacked workers in negotiations with a view to reaching an agreement on the terms of settlement, so that the affected staff can move on with their careers, which has been damaged by the negative reports of their sacking, which the bank had deliberately and erroneously presented as a result of lack of productivity.”
The statement had further asked the bank to retract its statements which it said “were aimed at circumventing the rules in order to bypass deserved and unavoidable payoff,” adding that some of the workers who had put in more than a decade in the service of the bank lamented the negative effect the bank’s statements have had on their careers.
It also called on the bank to address “the blatant and unilateral deductions of already agreed long term loan tenures from the bank account of the affected workers.”
However, when our correspondent contacted the bank management, it denied sacking 400 workers.
A response in an email from the bank’s Team Lead, Media Relations, Corporate Communications, Mr. Ikechuckwu Omeife, said “only 200 staff whose performance scorecards were adjudged to be lower than the minimum required to drive its strategic growth plan for the business year were relieved” of their jobs.
The bank described the downsizing of its workforce as “rightsizing” and as a core strategic exercise in line with the bank’s growth objective and the will to optimise cost and enhance value for the shareholders at the end of the business year.”
“The yearly appraisal is a general industry standard and enables banks to prune their workforce and prudently allocate resources for optimum result,” it added.
The Federal Government had earlier directed banks in the country to halt the all ongoing retrenchment of workers in the banking and telecommunications sector and even threatened to withdraw the operating licence of any bank or company in breach of the directive