NECA welcomes dialogue, cautions against unlawful picketing of banks over sack

Olusegun Oshinowo

Olusegun Oshinowo

The Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) has warned against unlawful picketing of banks and other financial institutions over the on-going redundancies in the sector.

The Director General of NECA, Olusegun Oshinowo, who stated this in an interview with The Guardian in Geneva, Switzerland on the side-line of the just-concluded International Labour Conference (ILC) of the International Labour Organization (ILO), explained that the utterances of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige has led to more apprehension in the system.

His words: “It is most unfortunate that the Minister’s comment has been fuelling impunity and gross abuse of rules and principles of industrial relations in Nigeria. The law about dispute settlement is clear in Nigeria. If the union has any issue with the action of the employer, it should seek recourse in the Industrial Court rather than take law into its hands.”

Oshinowo argued that in exercising their right to picket, the union should realize that such an action should not impinge on the right of the enterprise to conduct its business.

He added: “There are limits to the right of picket and if they should cross the line by encroaching on the rights of other actors in the economy, that will amount to criminality for which we expect the Police to arraign the offenders before appropriate court. The Oyo State Government actually showed example of what the authority should do in the event of unlawful picketing and strike by arraigning before the court trade unionists that had breached their union immunity in the course of strike/ picket. The right to strike/picket or union immunity is not a license for thuggery and criminality. We expect the law to take its effect if they cross the lines of the immunity granted them in law.”

Oshinowo submitted that if the law fails to call the union to order, the employers shall take it that this government is anti-business and hostile to investors and entrepreneurs.

“We all know such an action will lead to more unemployment and penury for the masses of Nigerians because you cannot be hostile and disdainful of wealth creators and expect growth and development. The time has indeed come for this government to say an emphatic no to lawlessness and impunity in the name of trade unionism. If the union is aggrieved, it should follow the law of the land in obtaining justice,” he said.

While welcoming a meeting slated for this Thursday by the Senate committee on banking and other financial institutions to proffer solution to the mass sack in the sector, the Director General said employers in the banking and financial sector are not averse to dialogue with those concerned and affected in the on-going lay-offs.

The Guardian obtained a letter signed by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Senator Rafi Adebayo Ibrahim, requesting for the meeting.

The letter read in part: “The meeting is slated for Thursday, 16th June, 2016 in the conference room 022, Senate new Building, National Assembly complex, Abuja at 12noon. The meeting is to deliberate on the directive of the Minister of Labour and Employment to Deposit Money banks (DMBs) to stop the on-going retrenchment exercise in the banks and the by the Federal Government to revoke the licenses of banks who fail to heed this instruction.”

In his response to the invitation, Director General of NECA, Olusegun Oshinowo, lauded the Senate for the move saying, “we think this is a right step to take. We also think that all the stakeholders should be invited to a roundtable meeting where all the issues would be discussed dispassionately. We are positive that this approach will yield more fruits towards finding amicable middle ground the challenge we have found ourselves.”

Invited alongside the Minister of Labour and Employment, are the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and all the Managing Directors of the Deposit Money Banks.

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