By NBF News
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Workers under the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) affiliate has described the recent step by the Union Bank of Nigeria (UBN) management to de-recognise the union and its in-house organ, Union Bank Association of Senior Staff, describing the action as a direct insult on the Ministry of Labour and Productivity and by extension, all workers in the finance industry.

According to a statement jointly signed by the National President of the union, Comrade Emeka Ogene and the Secretary General, Comrade Obukese Orere, the announcement by the bank's management was borne out of mis-information.

'That the Union Bank Association of Senior Staff (UBASS under ASSBIFI is not registered is laughable, misguided and uninformed management utterance.

'We wish to inform the public and tutor the management of Union Bank that ASSBIFI is a duly-registered Trade Union Association with Certificate No. 90 of 1984. That UBASS is affiliated to it and recognised by law and therefore its recognition by Union Bank management is automatic and compulsory,' the unions aid. The union noted that the intra-union crisis in ASSBIFI was not out of order, insisting that resolution process was also recognised by the Trade Union Act and vested in the Minister of Labour and not the management of Union Bank or any other company management.

The union explained that the bank's management in its bid to arrogate to itself the responsibilities of the Ministry of Labour has therefore, de-recognised ASSBIFI and UBASS, stopped check-off dues of members, lock up ASSBIFI and UBASS secretariats, sacked 13 union officials including the General Secretary of UBASS, for union activities, transferred all elected UBASS officials to different locations outside the head office and Lagos to weaken the union.

Other activities of the management, the union added, was disregarding Minister of Labour's letter calling on the bank, the NLC and the embattled union for a meeting and to maintain the status quo, disregard for NLC demand letter for status quo or face the wrath of labour after seven days from receipt; disregard for the union letter to open the secretariats and disregard to Barrister Bamidele Aturu's letter asking for the reversal of non-recognition of ASSBIFI within seven days.

The union stated that the continuous insistence of the Union Bank management that UBASS has no certificate of its own and that ASSBIFI was not registered were nothing but ignorance of the Trade Union Act, the 1999 Nigerian Constitution and ILO conventions. The union also raised the alarm that there was an attempt to constitute a parallel exco of UBASS in Union Bank with some faceless individuals.

Warning that such a move was against the Trade Union Act, the spirit of the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) and good industrial relations practice. 'We strongly advised all leaders to join hands in making the management of UBN to understand he role it is wrongly playing be cause any trade centre that wishes to capitalise on the crisis, except the NLC, will regret its action in the future,' the union warned further.

The union likewise called on the Minister of Labour to urgently prevail on Funke Osibodu-led management in UBN to right all the wrongs it has committed against labour leaders in the country. Meanwhile, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), of Nigeria (TUC) said it viewed the U-turn by the UBN management as a welcome development even though belated. 'We also see this as one of the numerous attempts by the new management to reform and reposition the bank.

'TUC had nursed the belief that the truth will eventually be revealed one day no matter how long it takes to subvert or hide it,' the congress said. The congress, however, warned that despite the intra crisis which has divided ASSBIF, management of any employer of labour does not have the right under any law to disband, proscribe or prohibit trade union ism as recognised by the Constitution and the Trade Union Act.

'In this particular case, there is no legal body or association to ban. TUC, therefore, demands that the management of UBN should act on their newly-acquired knowledge to ensure effective social dialogue in the organisation by establishing relationship with the legally recognised ASSBIFI which they now claim to know,' the TUC said.

The congress stated further that it has equally advised our affiliate ASSBIFI to enter into discussion with the bank's management without further delay.