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Oceanic Bank sacks 1,500 workers

By By Ade Ogidan, Business Editor   |   22 December 2009   |   4:54 am  

Some of the workers affected by the purge told The Guardian that they were taken by surprise by the action, given the efforts made so far to reposition the bank, especially the positive debt recovery exercise.

 

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the bank, John Aboh, while speaking at an interactive session recently with journalists in Lagos, hinted that the financial institution would embark on cost-saving measures to make it stay afloat.

Aboh also said that the bank would strive to capture more of the retail market through robust product development, upgrade of risk management processes and attaiment of operational efficiency through elimination of non-essential costs.

He disclosed that the bank would also embark on cost optimisation by verifying and dealing with non-performing/idle assets with a view to sustaining viable ones.

According to him, the bank, under the cost rationalisation agenda, will ensure the right-sizing of the workforce, to fit revenue generating capacity, streamline branch expansion, eliminate poorly performing subsidiaries and investment in technology and project management methodologies, to introduce process automation in operations.

He explained that the situation the bank found itself today, it cannot afford to maintain the current staff strength, stressing that once the bank stabilises, it would first employ all its retrenched workers before admitting new ones.

On deposit generation, he said that the bank would focus on retail business, with emphasis on replacing high proportion of time deposits with cheaper products, and reintroduction of world class transaction banking products, and reduction of dependency on interbank borrowings.

Already, the Federal Government has warned the managements of banks not to sack their workers en masse to save their overhead expenses.

Minister of Labour and Productivity, Adetokunbo Kayode, issued the government’s charge in Abuja at the weekend.

Kayode, who acknowledged the problems posed to the business community as well as government by the global economic meltdown, explained that the development should be a challenge to visionary managers of the economy to diversify it and not an excuse to retrench workers.

The Labour Minister warned that government would not tolerate mass retrenchment in the banking sector, hence his resolve to meet with all stakeholders in the banking industry, including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Kayode disclosed that his meeting with the banking operators would be continuous until the issue of massive retrenchment in the banking sector was addressed.

The minister appealed to the affected workers to be patient as the government was “doing everything within the ambit of the law to address the matter.”

He also said until an endurable mechanism was put in place to determine and regulate the salaries of public workers, agitation for salary increase would continue to be a source of disagreement between employers and employees.

Kayode disclosed that modalities were been put in place to ensure that the Nigerian worker enjoyed a living wage.

The minister, who stated this while receiving President, Nigeria Civil Service Union, Mohammad Shaibu, noted that the contributions of every worker to national growth and development must be rewarded with a living wage which the government would address through salary mechanism.

He urged labour unions to always embrace various conflict resolution mechanisms in resolving issues affecting their members, saying no nation could strive without a conducive and harmonious industrial relation atmosphere.

The minister said social dialogue and collective bargaining had been institutionalised for effective handling of industrial relations matters in the country and labour unions to be conscious of this as they strive to better the lots of their members.

Shaibu commended the minister over his “steadfastness and resilient approach” to handling industrial relations matters in the country.

He noted that the minister’s labour-friendly approach had paved way for industrial peace and harmony for economic growth and development.

Meanwhile, Nigeria has solicited the assistance of the Korean Government in the areas of vocational training and skills development for youths to reduce unemployment in the country.

Kayode made the request when he received in audience, the Korean Ambassador to Nigeria, Park Young Kuk.

He commended the Korean government for empowering many Nigerians in Korea with various vocational skills, thus making them useful to the Korean economy.

The minister noted that vocational training and skills development were necessary tools in addressing youth restiveness and unemployment in the country.

Kayode expressed hope that the Korean experience would assist Nigerian youths to acquire new skills, especially in the areas of car electronics and refrigerator repairs among other skills.

In his speech, Ambassador Park noted that Nigeria has room to develop through vocational skills development of its citizens.

He assured that the government of Korea was willing to partner with Nigeria in vocational training and skills development.

The envoy lauded Nigerians living in Korea for their entrepreneurial skills and contributions to the development of the Korean economy.



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