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Workers union fears job losses as Standard Chartered closes Nigerian branches

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Bank workers union, the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions, says job losses are looming in the sector over a plan by Standard Chartered Bank to close 50 per cent of its branches in Nigeria.

There were reports on Monday that the United Kingdom-based lender would cut branches in Nigeria and focus more on digital banking.

The President, ASSBIFI, Mrs Oyinkan Olasanoye, told The PUNCH on Tuesday that some workers of the UK listed bank might lose their jobs following the development.

She spoke against the backdrop of the latest moves by Standard Chartered which had in December begun to close some branches, according to a Bloomberg News report.

Olasonoye said, “It is not possible for any bank to reduce branches that it won’t affect the employees. Despite the digitalisation, it is the employees of these banks that are still feeding the necessary machines and the necessary equipment to be able to work better.

“This will bounce back to Nigerians generally because Nigeria’s economy is a dependent economy, so those bank workers have some relatives and friends that they still assist financially. A single worker laid off will affect many Nigerians.”

While speaking on entitlements that job losers should have, she said, “It is not every staff that works in Nigerian banks that are full bank staff. The majority of them are contract workers.

“Standard Chartered Bank employees are not members of any union in Nigeria. If they were unionised and those people are our members, we would go into negotiation with the management on severance package, the allowance they are going to be paid.

“And one other thing again that we do in ASSBIFI is that we talk about reducing the number. If the management wants about 50 workers to go, we find a way to do negotiation to reduce the number to a lesser figure because of the effect on the families and the economy at large.

“But as long as they are Nigerian workers, if they walk into any of the labour centres, their case will be taken up and can then be directed to ASSBIFI level to be taken up on the ground that they are Nigerian workers.”

A spokeswoman for Standard Chartered could not be reached for comments immediately.

However, an official of the Corporate Affairs Department, Joke Adu, promised to get back to our correspondent when contacted on the development.

She had asked our correspondent to send an email for an appropriate response.  As of the time of filing this report on Tuesday, she had yet to send the response.

Standard Chartered’s reported decision came amid pressure on the finance industry by mobile money providers.

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