The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has ordered banks not to lay off staff amidst the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown effects.
Although speculations about the impending sack of workers in the banking sector have been on since the outbreak of the coronavirus, Access Bank Plc was the first to announce its plan to downsize and slash its workers’ salaries.
The group managing director of the bank, Herbert Wigwe, announced during a video conference with the bank’s staff that the management of the bank plans to offload about 75 percent of its workforce.
Criticism has tailed the bank’s decision with the Nigeria Labour Congress threatening to mobilize its members to fight such plans.
But, apparently to forestall a major crisis in the country, even as the country’s economy is struggling to find its footing as the economic impact of the coronavirus bites harder, the CBN, through its Bankers’ Committee, on Sunday, ordered the immediate suspension of such plans.
The apex bank spokesperson, Isaac Okoroafor, who signed the statement, said the order was given at the end of a special meeting of the Bankers’ Committee held on May 2 to further review the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian banking industry.
The statement titled: “CBN, Bankers’ Committee Suspend Lay-offs in Banks”, reads:
“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:
“1. 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).
“2. To give effect to the above measure, the express approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria shall be required in the event that it becomes absolutely necessary to lay-off any such staff.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria solicits the support of all in our collective effort to weather through the economic challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.”