The imbroglio between Fidelity Bank and its 12 aggrieved ex-staff continued to attract well-meaning Nigerians including customers, staff and ex-staff of the bank.
The stunning scenario about the issue is the bank that was noted for its integrity is reversing itself on manyÂ occasions.toÂ the precipice.
First, it granted a live interview to TVC when drivers in its employ were protesting non-payment of their gratuities, the spokesman for the bank said the drivers were not its staff, hence they are not entitled to any benefits. Few months later, the bank sacked most of them with pay off of N100,000 for a year multiplied by the number of years spent.
A month after, the bank recalled few of the drivers laid off and asked the drivers to pay back the benefits paid as a condition to resume duty.
The probing question is, why did it paid off the drivers it initially said were not employed by it?
The first point of call of the 12 ex-staff was CBN as a regulatory body and the Banker’s Committee to prevail on the bank to pay them their retirement benefits with written letters to back it up.
Initially, the Central Bank of Nigeria was eager to follow up and address the grievances of the staff but later wrote a letter to 12 ex-staff telling them to forward each of their Letter of Appointment with Fidelity Bank Plc. This was a clear departure from its initial response to urgently look into the plight of the staff of the bank.
Investigation conducted by SOJ Worldwide revealed that the CBN had compromised as a regulatory body to Commercial banks. It was once a taboo for CBN to discover that banks having in its employ Contract Staff doing the functions of core staff which was the case of most of the bank workers in the banking industry today.
Moreover, we were able to know that the incumbent Chairman of Fidelity Bank,Â Mr. Ernest ObiÂ was once a Director with the CBN hence the compromise in ignoring the 12 ex-staff complaints to the apex bank.
The fear that many staff in the service would have to be paid if these 12 staff have their way could be a factor why the bank lawyers told the court that those who have spent fifteen years were not employed by the bank but still working for the bank.
According to an online reaction on this issue; â€œthis statement in itself, shows the incompetence of the lawyers handling the case for the bank. The bank is already shooting itself in the legs by reporting itself to the regulatory authority which is the CBN and labour ministry.â€
In one of the 12 ex-staff letters sent to the CBN, it states; â€œâ€¦Sir, upon my voluntary retirement by a notice datedÂ September 5, 2016 which was duly acknowledged by the bank. I was consequently cleared by various Head of Departments of the bank, including the Human Resources Department.
â€¦the Human Resources advised me that the total amount due to me as retirement benefits was Nâ€¦.and that in few weeks I should get a credit to that effect in my bank account.
However, whilst awaiting a credit to my account as properly advised by the Human Resources Department. I was shocked to receive another letter from the bank dated January 6, 2017 stating that the bank has adopted a new policy cancelling the former arrangements of payment of retirement benefits to staff effective January 2017â€¦â€
See Central Bank of Nigeria response as follows;
â€œRE: ALLEGATION OF NON-PAYMENT OF RETIREMENT BENEFITS BY FIDELITY BANK PLC MANAGEMENT.
We refer to letter dated January 16, 2017 on the above subject and write to inform you that you send to us copy of your letter of engagement as non-core staff and subsequent letter of appointment with Fidelity Bank Ltd to enable us conclude on your issue.
Signed by Z. Markus
For: Director of Banking Supervision.â€
The ex-staff resorted to approach the National Industrial Court, because no response from the CBN apart from terse statement above sent to them from January 2017 was forthcoming.
The inside sources at the CBN advised the staff to approach the court to fight for their entitlements because they could see â€œthe hand of Isau and the voice of Jacobâ€ in the whole issue. The CBN has been compromised by the influence of the former Director who is now the Chairman of Fidelity Bank. They might not get justice waiting for CBN.
Until now, the CBN do not tolerate banks employing Contract staff in the core functions of bank activities.
The battle continues at the National Industrial Court Thursday this week, October 12, 2017.
All other ex-staff of the bank are in solidarity with their colleagues whom they feel have been unjustly treated.
The case has drawn the sympathy of the public including the customers of the bank in favour of the 12 ex-staff. The question on every lip is; â€¦this is not the Fidelity Bank we used to know.â€
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