An Abuja-based Legal Practitioner, Mr. Frank Tietie, has accused the management of Diamond Bank Plc of unfair labour practices against some recently sacked workers of the bank.
In a letter dated June 29, and addressed to the Managing Director of the lender, Tietie said that the workers were “rudely’’ informed of their sack by e-mail on May 27.
He said that the action breached the provisions of Section 20 of the Labour Act on redundancy as well as “other labour regulations, standards and best practices’’.
The lawyer alleged that 400 workers were affected, but the bank confirmed the sack of only 200 in a statement on May 27 .
According to Tietie, Diamond Bank goes further to unilaterally deduct supposed long term loans from the bank accounts of the affected workers against earlier agreed loan tenures.
He said such an action was unbecoming of a Nigerian bank against its staff, which was yet to recover from the trauma and shock of the unexpected termination of their employments.
“By that action, they have been further subjected to the punishment of being suddenly thrown into serious financial dire straits.
“This is despite the unblemished and meritorious services they had rendered to the bank as committed and dedicated staff for periods ranging from one to 20 years.’’
He therefore, gave the bank 15 working days from the day of receipt of the letter to enter into negotiations with representatives of the affected workers or face legal action.
When contacted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the Head of the bank’s Media Relations Unit, Mr. Ikechukwu Omeife, reaffirmed the lender’s claim that only 200 workers were affected.
Omeife explained that the sack was part of a rightsizing recently undertaken by the bank to “optimise cost and enhance value for the shareholders at the end of the business year”.
He said that the affected 200 employees were those whose performance records were lower than the minimum required to drive the bank’s strategic growth plan.
Omeife wondered why the lawyer singled out Diamond Bank for attack over an exercise that was a normal practice in the corporate world and which other banks had also undertaken.
The spokesman however, denied knowledge of the alleged loan deductions, but said it was also a standard practice in the case of sacked workers with loan obligations to their employers.