Reps direct commercial banks to convert casual staff to permanent staff

The House of Representatives on Wednesday directed the nation’s commercial banks to convert their casual staff who are handling core operations to permanent staff with immediate effect.

This followed the adoption of a motion moved by Hon. Amobi Akintola at the plenary presided over by the Speaker Hon Femi Gbajabiamila while also described an act of exploitation of the unemployed youths.

While moving the motion , the lawmaker said that prior to the emergence of new generation banks in Nigeria, staff of banks were usually full time workers and entitled to series of benefits from the banks they worked for, including promotions, health packages, productivity, life insurance policies, housing allowances, wardrobe allowances, feeding allowances, among others, which made banking jobs enviable work for all and sundry in the country.

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He lamented that the advent of the new generation banks in the country changed so many things in the banking industry, noting that despite all the challenges being faced by the new generation banks, the financial sector still remains one of the most viable sectors of the Nigerian economy with each of the banks having a minimum of ₦25 billion  as its capital base.

The lawmaker stressed that in 2017, Guaranty Trust Bank declared a profit before tax of ₦186 billion, followed by Zenith Bank which in the same financial year declared a profit before tax of ₦173 billion, while Access Bank came third with a profit of ₦80 billion by the end of that year, a feat which he said was repeated in 2018.

The lawmaker pointed out that from commissions and charges, banks raked in ₦700 billion as at September 30, 2019, without considering money generated from loans, advances and other portfolio investments of the banks, evidencing the lucrative nature of banking business.

He, however, expressed concern that despite the huge profits being made by commercial banks, they still casualise most of their core operational staff, as 90 per cent of bank workers are casual staff, a development that is an act of exploitation of the unemployed youths.

The lawmaker noted that the core operations of banks like tellers, customer service, relationship management, marketing, business development, internal controls, among others are being handled by contract staff who are not entitled to promotion, health care services, utility allowances, productivity.

This, he said, was making them be virtual slaves within the banking sector as six months ago, Eco Bank laid off over a thousand casual staff;

According to him,”cognisant that the practice of casualisation of staff is causing a rise in fraud rate perpetrated by staff and also psychological trauma among those set of staff to the extent that a contract staff committed suicide in 2010 when he was retrenched by WEMA Bank without any compensation and in another incidence few days ago, during a robbery attack in Ekiti State on Thursday November 21, 2019, the Police explained how a CCTV footage exposed a bank staff involved in the robbery operation.”

He said that he was convinced that if the casual staff handling core operations of banks are converted to permanent staff, better service would be derived by customers and the rate of fraud in the banking industry will reduce drastically.

The House, therefore, called on “commercial banks to convert their casual staff who are handling core operations to permanent staff without further delay and also urged the Central Bank of Nigeria to sanction any bank that fails to comply;”

It also mandated the Committee on Banking and Currency and the ministry of Labour to interface with commercial banks on the need to stop casualisation of their core operational staff.

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