An Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has warned against retrenchment in the banking sector after the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19. MURIC argued that Nigerian banks do not need to sack workers because they are making huge profits.
This was the submission of MURIC in a press statement circulated to the media on Monday, 15th June, 2020 by the Director of the organization, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
“There has been palpable fear that Nigerian banks may soon embark on massive sack of workers due to the prolonged lockdown from March to June 2020. This fear is justified because of past experiences. Retrenchment is common among employers at the slightest excuse since Nigeria runs a capitalist laissez-faire economy. Nobody seems to care about the welfare of the proletariat.
“Although our message is directed mainly at the banking sector, it applies to all employers of labour as well, both public and private, federal and state. Banks particularly have no raison d’etre for retrenching workers this time around since they are making humongous returns.
“Exempli gratia, Unity Bank just announced N506.07 million quarterly profit on Friday 12th June, 2020 (https://punchng.com/unity-bank-records-n506-07m-quarterly-profit/). Guaranty Trust Bank’s profit before tax surged by 2.1% to N58.2 billion in the first quarter of 2020 (https://nairametrics.com/2020/04/23/guaranty-trust-banks-profit-before-tax-surges-by-2-1-to-n58-2-billion/).
“Zenith Bank recorded a 3% pre-tax rise to N58.7 billion around the same time (https://nairametrics.com/2020/04/30/zenith-banks-profit-before-tax-rises-by-3-to-n58-7-billion-in-q1-2020/). Access Bank posted N211b earnings with N45b profit (https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2020/04/26/access-bank-posts-n211bn-earnings-n45bn-profit-in-first-quarter/) while the United Bank of Africa (UBA) made N30b profit (https://businesspost.ng/banking/uba-declares-n30bn-profit-in-first-quarter-of-2020/).
“So how can these banks contemplate sacking any worker in spite of these gargantuan earnings? How can banks make billions of naira in profits and still decide to retrench workers under the guise of a lockdown? Why must management cader in banks and companies live like kings while other workers are laid off? It is common knowledge that morality cannot be found in the vocabulary of capitalism. But management cader of these banks should remember that what goes round comes around. They should not embark on an exercise which is bound to bounce back on them and their families. It may be long, but it will certainly do.
“Every single bank worker in Nigeria today is a bread-winner not only for his nuclear family but also for the extended relations, for friends and hanger-ons. In short every Nigerian worker today caters for between five to ten people. By sacking one therefore, eleven or more people have been deprived of their daily bread. The effect in social dynamics is astronomical increase in crime rate. You cannot shoot at rocks without getting richochets. It will affect those bank chief executives one way or the other since no man is an island, entire of himself.
“The banks should not worsen the poverty level in the country. 80 million Nigerians live below poverty line. In fact, the 2020 World Poverty Clock states that more than 102 million (102,407,327) Nigerians, representing more than half of the country’s estimated population, are in extreme poverty. This group lives on less than $1.90 per day (https://worldpoverty.io/map). 11 million Nigerians are undernourished. The average life span of Nigerians which was 70 years before independence is now 47. It is 82 in Japan and 78 in the United States.
“A situation where only 1% of the population has arrogated 85% of our common patrimony to itself leaving a paltry 15% of the total wealth to 99% of the population calls for urgent redistribution of wealth. Too many people are suffering. Too many people are poor. We must remake Nigeria. We need more jobs, not retrenchments.
“We therefore call on the Ministry of Labour to up its employment game. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) should watch out for the capitalist gimmicks of the banks and other employers. It is absolutely inhuman for those who are making huge profits to sack workers using the excuse of COVID-19-induced lockdown. This is the time the working class must put its feet down.”