Controversy deepens after mass sack at First Bank; affected staff threaten court action

First-Bank-Of-Nigeria

Controversy is trailing the recent mass sack of workers by First Bank of Nigeria, FBN, as the bank and its affiliate contracting firm in charge of recruitment, Whyte Cleon Limited, have given various reasons to justify the action.

The affected workers, reported to be more than 1,000, cutting across branches of the bank throughout the country have dismissed the reasons given, while criticising the process as defying due process and acceptable labour practice globally.

Initially, the First Bank spokesperson, Babatunde Lasaki, who confirmed the sack to The Next Edition, said the exercise was based on the outcome of an annual staff appraisal which sets a baseline to assess staff performance.

He said in line with the usual practice, those who met some key performance indicators and a scorecard spelt out at the beginning of the year about the job description relating to their offices were either retained or promoted for increment, while poor performers risked being sacked.

However, following the debate that has trailed the sack, First Bank management appears to have distanced itself from it, as it later said the sacked workers were not part of its workforce.

When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Mr. Lasaki on Tuesday through a mail for further clarification about the sack, his automatic email responder machine directed the reporter to his colleague, who said those affected were not ”regular staff” of First Bank, but casual workers who were hired to provide support services to the bank.

The official who requested not to be named, as she was not authorised to speak on the issue, did not give further details.

She, however, re-directed the reporter to an official of Whyte Cleon Limited, the bank’s human resource recruitment affiliate, which carried out the sack of the workers.

Recent media reports said those sacked were mostly front desk tellers, account and clearing support staff, customer service officers and marketing associates who had put in between five and 10 years in the service of the bank.

PREMIUM TIMES could not immediately verify these reports.

But, the workers, who insist they considered themselves bona fide staff of First Bank, by virtue of the official staff identity cards they carry and the conditions of service issued to them when they resumed work, insist the manner of their disengagement did not follow due process.

Apart from denying that the termination of their appointments was based on the outcome of a performance appraisal exercise, the workers said information about their sack was not communicated to them formally, but through short message service, SMS sent to their telephones on August 7, 2017, an act they alleged did not meet international labour practice standards.

The bank insists that apart from the text messages, all the affected workers were later issued formal letters of termination of appointment.

Besides, the workers said, contrary to what the bank would want the public to believe about the reason for their sack, the real reason they were sacked was that First Bank wanted to avoid being encumbered up with the provision of a labour law requiring employers to compulsorily convert their casual workers to permanent staff, with full benefits after their 10th year in active service.

Some of those affected who reached out to PREMIUM TIMES to give further clarification on the circumstances of their unexpected exit from First Bank said the majority of those given the boot were non-core staff recruited between 2008 and 2015, most of whom have put in more than nine years in the service of the bank.

“It is a blunt lie. There was no scorecard or indicator to measure the performance of non-core staff. We worked to support the core staff. They are only using that as a gimmick to deceive the public.

“They are trying to wipe out the entire staff recruited as far back as 2008, who have spent between eight and nine years in the bank. They do not want them to attain 10 years of service so that the bank would not be forced to convert them from non-core staff to core staff, in line with established labour laws,” one of the workers who gave his name as Jimoh Durojaye, said on Wednesday.

Another, Chukwuka Odinaka, said they did not fail any appraisal test, as claimed by the bank, as they were not even given any such opportunity to defend themselves.
He alleged that all positions vacated by the sacked worked have since been filled with fresh graduates recruited by the bank.

“We were employed by Insourcing Limited, formerly a subsidiary of the First Bank Group. We were later handed over to Whyte Cleon. It is not true that our disengagement followed due process, as Business Managers and Heads of Branch Services who oversee the branch operations were not aware of the development. They only came to work on Monday morning and saw they had been given new staff,” Mr. Odinaka said.

Also, Alani Moshood, who said the bulk of the workers laid off were recruited between 2008 and 2009, also said the affected workers are considering approaching the National Industrial Court to seek justice, adding that they were yet to be paid any severance package since their exit on August 11, 2017 in line with statutory exit labour procedures.

Meanwhile, Whyte Cleon Limited in response to PREMIUM TIMES enquiries on Wednesday dismissed the allegations that the workers were sacked through text messages as false and an attempt to discredit it.

“Reports in the media alleging Whyte Cleon Limited ordered the mass dismissal of some members of staff in the employ of First Bank Plc through only short message service (SMS) is false. The claims that Whyte Cleon Limited has been silently laying off its staff through only SMS is a deliberate attempt to discredit Whyte Cleon Limited,” the company said in a statement to PREMIUM TIMES, sent by its representative, Seun Togan.

“We wish to reiterate categorically that the decision to withdraw the services of our employees was communicated to them both verbally and formally in compliance with the conditions of service of engagements. In global human resource outsourcing practice, employees can be withdrawn from an organization, deployed to other organisations and/or may be replaced with other employees as the case may be.

“Whyte Cleon Limited followed due process in honouring the terms of appointment of their outsourced employees and subsequently withdrawing them. Whyte Cleon Limited had exit interviews with all the affected outsourced employees before notification of their recall. It is noteworthy that the affected employees were paid their entitlements and ancillary benefits,” Mr. Togan said.

He did not respond to another email seeking further explanation on the number of workers affected by the sack and their relationship or status with First Bank.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt that Whyte Cleon inherited the workers from Insourcing Limited in February 2016 following a Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN directive to all financial institutions in the country in December 2015 to discontinue involvement in non-financial transactions.


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  • C3kwe

    First bank senior recruitment staff are bunch of corrupt animals who demand bribe and sexual favors before qualified staff are recruited. What goes around comes around.

    • aboki

      The banking sector is in trying period with TSA and other regulatory measures to check leakages.
      Coupled with Zero tolerance on corruption, the banks are now turning the heat on their innocent workers after draining them to maximum label.

  • government

    What is the tax profile of this whyte cleon limited.PT,please check.

  • Agada Ameh

    We joined the organization 2008 but our pfa pension remittance was effected 2010. Where is the remaining balance First Bank ltd?
    Fraud!

  • Kenny

    We endured so much insult from the core staff for more than 9 yrs,some of dem will sit on their desk doing notin,chatting away and eager to give you unexplainable query at every slit opportunity, playing with their phones forcing you to submit yours even though you are not handling cash, they make you feel worthless, constantly reminding you that they can sack you anytime they want, forcing you to do jobs outside your job descriptions,at the end they get the glory for whatever job done by you. You see them sharing profit every year for jobs mostly done by you without a dime for u, every fresh graduate is your boss your years of experience doesn’t mean anything to them (even though we are all graduates, some of us even have masters and professional certificates) If you complain they threaten to sack you. This is advanced slavery in my own country…just 2 months after my salary was increased I got a horrific sms that my job is done…that means the salary increment was actually meant for their children they planned to take over from us( our labour will be enjoyed by the pple dat did not suffer for it) . Is this the reward for my 9 yrs of honesty, hardwork and severance?…and to crown it all I was not paid for dat month and I was paid stipend of 97k for a whole I’llant is a payoff for my 9yrs of labour so that I can’t start something meaningful with my life..

    • Kenny

      ..and to crown it all I was not paid for dat month and I was paid stipend of 97k for a whole 9yrs of labour….nemesis shall catch up with the architect of this inhuman act, your generation unborn will also suffer for it…all I want is a payoff for my 9yrs hard labour so that I can start something meaningful with my life.

  • Topcytop

    This whytcleon
    are really mad, where and when did they conduct any exit interview for the affected staff as claimed by them?They’ve deleted another set of people yesterday 15th of September but they did not send message to them, these people will know on Monday when they try to login.I worked wholeheartedly for good 9yrs without any case of fraud and now you said I should go just like that without paying me any penny.Does that means I wasted 9good years of my life with you people?.No, our entitlements must be paid.

  • Concerned Nigerian

    U guys are to mobilize n get a good lawyer to file a suit against white Cleon with first bank, TUC, min. of labour as co – defendants.

  • Temitope

    Selfish employers, all they care about is their pockets they don’t care about their employees…I thought they use to say firstbank is d strongest…Ecobank payoff her contract staff with huge amount of money dat can start a better life….truly the first indeed.

  • efada acha

    This is part of the change

  • A’leem Abdulwaheed

    I think this course needs to be taken beyond here. Because of our clamor, whytecleon is no more using sms nor calls, just yesterday people resume for the normal weekend ATM monitoring exploit to discovered that they have been expunged from the system. I guess this is what one of the whytecleon staff claimed to be due process while interrogated by premium times. Tomorrow more cries at First Bank as some SE will get to work and won’t be able to login.

    *Lets keep sharing on all available social media, Firstbank and her so called contractor-Whytecleon are lacking the core of financial institution-INTEGRITY*