December 14, 2010
It was a day of mixed business operations for Union Bank. While its 41st annual general meeting was on at Maiduguri, Borno State capital, protesting staff shut down the bank’s operations nationwide.
The workers said they have had enough of the mismanagement of the present management staff, and in particular, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Funke Osibodu. They are also complained about the alleged termination of 200 staff without due process. “Enough is enough,” said one of the protesters, who did not wish to be named.
“What is it? Since she came, we have not known peace. She has been undermining workers solidarity and constantly deducting workers salary for no specific reason. We need answers to her actions so far. We need her to clarify certain thing we don’t understand. All the tax that are being deducted from our salaries, there is no evidence that they are being remitted to the tax office. She is looting our money. They were told to come here and raise our share capital base. Nothing has happened so far. It’s not really the layoff that is our problem now.”
Inquiries revealed that all the branches of the bank nationwide were affected by the protest as the central server which is supposed to link up the systems for the online services were shut down as well. The protest is one of the fallouts of the restructuring of the rescued banks by the Central Bank which commenced last year with the takeover of nine banks.
Protest would continue
Denja Yakub, the Assistant secretary Nigeria Labour Congress, said the protest “would continue forever.” “We have succeeded in shutting down all Union Bank branches nationwide,” he said. “They didn’t work anywhere today and we will continue tomorrow. It will continue forever until they decide to talk with us.” Mr Yakub alleged that the bank management has ignored implementation of all collective agreements it signed with the union, misappropriated shareholders’ funds, and sacked over 200 workers without due process.
Among the placards and hand bills held by the protesting workers were inscriptions like ‘Madam Osibodu, stop undermining workers’ solidarity’. ‘Know that working men have no country’. ‘While the wages of workers is under assault, the directors’ income is witnessing an upward swing’. ‘Osibodu, why are you moving deposit to our competitors? Tell the world why you ceded our US$500 million deposit to First Bank of Nigeria’. ‘Madam Osibodu, you represent the Jezebel of our time. We bind you, don’t disturb’.
However, while her house was literarily on fire, Mrs Osibodu was assuring shareholders that better days are ahead as a result of the changes being implemented in the bank. “We are confident that the changes being implemented in the bank will yield the desired results such that they will begin to reap good returns from their investments in the bank in the near future,” she said.
Francis Barde, the bank’s spokesperson, said he was unable to comment on the picketing and promised to call back; which he did not do as at the time of going to the press.