Labour shuts down Unity Bank over N4.3bn pension

ABUJA – Organised Labour yesterday shut down operations at Unity Bank’s head office in Abuja, and branches in Lagos and other state capitals in protest against its refusal to pay its pensioners since 2006.

The picketing of the bank’s offices nationwide, which was spearheaded by the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI) and Nigeria Union of Pensions, both affiliates of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), was in support of the old workers of the defunct Bank of the North whose pensions were abruptly stopped since the take-over of the bank by Unity Bank in 2006.

The unions had accused Unity Bank’s management of reneging on the agreement signed with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) in May last year to offset part of the pension arrears the bank was owing the over 4,000 pensioners.

Labour shuts down Unity Bank over N4.3bn pensionThe General Secretary of ASSBIFI, Mr. Obukese Orere, said the bank had at last year’s negotiation agreed to pay N1.7 billion out of the N4.3 billion it is owing the pensioners inherited from Bank of the North.

“The management of the bank, after the take-over in 2006, stopped paying all the pensioners’ entitlements, which have now accumulated to billions of naira,” he said.

He noted that while some of the pensioners had been receiving their entitlements until 2005, the set of workers laid off in 2004 and 2005 were yet to get any form of entitlement from the defunct Bank of the North and the new owner, Unity Bank.

Lamenting the plight of the pensioners, some, he claimed to have died without receiving their entitlement, the ASSBIFI scribe vowed that the picketing would continue until the management commenced payment of the contentious fund to the pensioners.

“Though we are already discussing with the management, nothing short of payment of the arrears would make us to leave the premises of Unity Bank nationwide as we already have binding agreement, which the management has failed to honour,” he stated.

Comrade Obukese said the NLC as a body might take over the picketing from tomorrow (Wednesday) should the management of the bank fail to reach a truce with the representatives of the workers in the on-going dialogue.

“We are ready to put the picketing on hold if the management gives us the assurance that it will commence payment of the initial N1.7billion, while negotiation will continue on when the other balance would be paid”, he said. – THE SUN

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