Bank pensioners allege abandonment, demand review of allowances

THEY gave their best during their productive years; most of them pioneer staff of the bank. But today, they are living in penury, abandoned by the institution they helped to build.

They are pensioners from one of the top banks in Nigeria, who were disengaged from service about 15 years ago under the old pension scheme in Nigeria.

But yesterday, majority of them came as far as Ibadan to protest what they called inhuman and insensitive treatment meted to them by their employer.

In what they called the first in series of mass demonstrations, they sat at the entrance of the bank with their mats, placards and banners singing solidarity songs.

Supported by other pensioners under the umbrella of National Union of Pensioners (NUP), many of them who were in their late sixties and eighties besieged the corporate headquarters of the bank in Lagos to protest the alleged ill treatment.

Armed with mats, placards and banners with various inscriptions, the protesters, including women told their stories of neglect by the management of the bank since their disengagement, which they said has resulted to the death of some of them, while their children have turned to Internet fraudsters and prostitution for survival.

Speaking during the protest, the National Chairman, Nigeria Union of Pensioners, the bank’s unit, Chief Emmanuel Ojo, said the protest was aimed at expressing their displeasure with the management of the bank.

According to him, they have waited for more than three years discussing what the bank termed “new package” and making sacrifices until June 15, 2015 when the bank offered them through their executives about N2,000 increase in their pensions across board, which was rejected.

The reasons for rejecting the offer, Chief Ojo said was that the bank has been making profit consistently from 1997 when majority of them were laid off and has also been increasing salaries of their colleagues still in service yearly.

According to him, according to the 2014 yearly report and accounts of the bank, it made a net profit of N45.3 billion after spending N55.5 billion on staff, giving an average staff cost of N4,400,000 per annum while an average pension of these “gold layers” is about N147,000,00 per annum, amounting to 3.3 percent of average staff cost.

He argued that if the bank saw the need to increase salaries of its present workers regularly to make up for inflation, why did it not consider the pensioners; the retired staff who brought the bank to greatness and who are also living under the same bad economy.

“The agitation of pensioners under the old pension scheme in Nigeria is harmonization of their pensions with the salaries of serving workers at the state and federal levels. The constitution of Nigeria even provides for pensions to be increased when salaries are increased.

“We know that asking the bank to harmonise our pension with that of our colleagues still on the job will be asking for day to turn to night. However, we believe that the bank’s pensioners should earn not less then 20 percent of what their colleagues on the job are earning, that is N880,000 per annum on the average and not the N10,000 per month we are being paid.”

“The situation where the management of the bank throws crumbs of N2,000 to us as pension increase, as if we are beggars can no longer be tolerated. We surely deserve better treatment from the bank we served meritoriously for many years. With some of us being foundation staff,” he added.

However, officials of the bank refused to comment on the incident, asking the pensioners to stop the protest before any negotiation could take place.

According one of them, who prefer anonymity, the bank will surely look into the complaints and come out with an amicable resolution.

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