By Paul Obi in Abuja
As economic downturn hits the nation harder, the federal government, yesterday, directed all banks and financial institutions to suspend staff retrenchment.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige issued the directives yesterday.
He said: “Following the high spate of petitions and complaints from stakeholders in the Banking, Insurance and Financial Institutions, I hereby direct the suspension of the on-going retrenchment in the sector pending the outcome of the conciliatory meetings in the industry.
“This is as a result of the apprehension by my office of the various disputes in the sector in accordance and in compliance with the provisions of the labour laws of Nigeria.
“This decision is further predicated on the fact that the continued retrenchment and redundancy by the banks and other financial institutions are jeopardising the outcome of the conciliatory and mediatory processes being undertaken by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“In this wise, all the retrenchments and redundancies done in the last four months and all proposed ones should be put on hold, pending the outcome of the proposed stakeholders’ summit for the Banking, Insurance and Financial Institutions’ employers and employees, slated for the first week of July, 2016.
“All parties are therefore advised in the interest of industrial peace and harmony to maintain the status-quo ante-belum.”
Ngige further stated that “by this directive also, the labour unions should cease all picketing of banks and financial institutions immediately.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has written to the Inspector General of Police to express outrage at the arrest and detention of its members in Oyo State by the Oyo State Police Command for peacefully protesting against the sale of public schools in the guise of Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, in a statement, said: “The right to peaceful protest against a wrong is guaranteed by the 1999 constitution (as amended), Labour/Trade Union Laws, ILO Conventions to which Nigeria is a signatory and Human Rights Laws and cannot be abridged by the Police or any agency of government.
“The public schools which the Oyo State Government is selling without due process or consent of the people were built with the sweat and blood of the people. Amongst the beneficiaries of this public school education system is the Governor himself and other members of his cabinet.”
Wabba stressed that “for them today to turn around and put up for sale these same schools, lock, stock, and barrel to the highest bidder, does not only constitute a contradiction but an unforgivable act of betrayal. By this singular act, they have denied and will continue to deny the children of the poor access to education which is their inalienable right under the constitution.
“I am not too sure members of the police force will be pleased if their children are denied access to education.
“Accordingly, I would request you to order the unconditional release of these workers as well as put a stop to their harassment in the interest of justice and industrial harmony.
“We urge that effort should be made by all segments of the society including the Nigeria Police Force in order not to precipitate an avoidable national crisis, as we will not hesitate to call out a nation-wide action in support of our colleagues in Oyo State.”
He added that while the IG “have brought relative sanity and professionalism to the force, we urge that no overzealous officer be allowed at this point in time to dent this record.”