Organised labour has described as unacceptable the recent trend of mass retrenchment of workers in the banking sector saying the development makes work “dangerously precarious” in the sector. A member of the National Executive Council of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Chairman, IndustriALL Global Union Sub Saharan Africa, Comrade Issa Aremu commended the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Dr. Chris Ngige and the National Assembly for their respective intervention on the matter. Comrade Aremu said banks who see workers as “dispensable items” during temporary economic shock even when they treat same workers as slaves during times of boom ought not to be in business and indeed should have their licenses legitimately revoked.
At a time all the state and market actors in Nigerian economy are working hard to address the crisis of unemployment, mass sack in banks that are still posting prohibitive profits can be likened to economic sabotage, he said. Comrade Aremu who spoke at the weekend in Lagos at an interactive session with stakeholders on the measures by the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure stability in the financial sector and economy organized by the Corporate Communications Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria, also called on the CBN as banker of last resort to intervene on the side of jobs retention in the financial sector. The labour leader commended the activist “development financing” of CBN under governor Godwin Emefiele which according to him has promoted job creations in critical sectors like agriculture, energy and textile. He however observed that CBN must also look inward within the banking sectors with a view of retaining jobs rather the ongoing indiscriminate mass sacks in the sector. He also charged the sector unions, namely National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE) and the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI) to urgently champion mass Picketing of banks that are making work precarious through mass sacks.
Commenting on the current monetary policy, Comrade Issa Aremu hails the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on its spirited efforts to defend the Naira value through stringent capital control measures in the face of dwindling external reserves caused by the collapse of oil price adding that CBN should finance “production inputs not conspicuous consumption items”. He frowned at the incessant clamour for Naira devaluation which according to him has already been devalued with wholesome negative impact on imported inflation. He also called on the CBN to relook at its current monetary policy rate which puts interest rate at double digit adding that “Nigeria cannot run a successful productive value adding economy with the current high cost of funds caused by high interest rates”. He noted that the good job CBN is doing through its interventionist measures in some key sectors of the nation’s economy would be undermined if the interest rate is not properly managed. Aremu calls on the CBN to target capacity utilization and employment as much as it is “targeting inflation” in its monetary policy. He also cautioned the CBN on the proposed flexible exchange rate policy so as not to bring mass Naira devaluation though “another window”.