Despite the Central Bank of Nigeria warning to banks on staff lay-off, eight lenders in the country sacked at least 3,754 workers last year, Ripples Nigeria reports.
The CBN had in May last year warned banks against the sack of employees as speculation of mass retrenchment in the sector made the round following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
In a statement titled: “CBN, Bankers’ Committee Suspend Staff Lay-Offs in Banks,” the bank ordered the immediate suspension of such plans.
It read: “A special meeting of the Bankers’ Committee was convened on May 2, 2020, to further review the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian banking industry. The Committee particularly deliberated on the issue of the operating costs of banks in view of the disruptions emanating from the global economic difficulties and decided as follows:
“In order to help minimize and mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on families and livelihoods, no bank in Nigeria shall retrench or lay off any staff of any cadre (including full-time and part-time).
However, the total number of staff among the banks surveyed dropped by 7.31 percent from 51,350 in 2019 to 47,596 in 2020.
None of the banks’ financial statements submitted to the Nigerian Stock Exchange made a clear explanation on why there was a cut down in staff strength.
Out of the eight banks surveyed, only Zenith and Fidelity banks increased their staff strength.
Zenith Bank added 139 fresh faces to increase its staff strength from 7, 405 to 7,544 in 2020.
Also, Fidelity added 12 new staff to increase its workforce from 2,933 to 2,945 last year.
Access Bank, United Bank for Africa, Guaranty Trust Bank, First Bank, Union Bank, and First City Monument Bank all cut down on their staff strength.
Strikingly, 63.9 percent of the staff cut was carried out by UBA.
The lender’s staff strength dropped from 13,237 in 2019 to 10,838 last year.
However, UBA’s huge lay off might not be in only Nigeria as it operates branches in over 23 countries across the world.
Further analysis showed that First bank sent home 674 of its employees as its staff numbers dropped from 9,016 in 2019 to 8,342 last year.
GTB disengaged 412 workers as its staff strength fell from 5,606 in 2019 to 5,194 last year.
FCMB reduced its staff strength from 3,893 to 3,619 after disengaging 283 employees in 2020.
Nigeria’s biggest lender, Access Bank, also told 117 staff to go home.
In fact, Access Bank’s planned mass retrenchment dominated public discourse at the time the first lockdown was in place last year.
The bank’s Group Managing Director, Herbert Wigwe, had announced during a video conference with the bank’s staff that the management planned to offload about 75 percent of its workforce.
Surprisingly, Access bank came fifth among banks that retrenched staff last year.
The lender reduced its staff strength from 6,898 in 2019 to 6,781 in 2020.
Union Bank sacked 20 staff to reduce the number of workers on its payroll from 2,362 to 2,342.
It is important to note that the number of staff affected did not include the contract staff.
The National Bureau of Statistics sectorial analysis of banks’ staff in September 2020 showed that 39,573 were on contract.
This was a sharp reduction from 44,664 engaged by the banks the previous year
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