Comrade (Dr) OYINKANSOLA OLASANYE. President, Association of Senior Staff of Banks Insurance and Financial Institution (ASSBIFI)
What led to the formation of your association?
When we started in Nigeria, most senior employees were not encouraged to go into unionism. It was more of junior workers and there were several unions, as such, it was difficult to manage. In 1978, the Federal Government of Nigeria had to establish a proper arrangement that made it easier to manage unionism in Nigeria.
Then, unions were arranged sectorally so that if you work in the financial sector you won’t be able to join the union in the manufacturing sector. The law was established that from each sector there should be three union bodies. For the banking sector, we have for all the employers, senior and junior employees inclusive. That is what 1978 law stipulated.
How do you coordinate all the various union from each sector?
We have a constitution and arrangement. We are organised in order to achieve our goals. We have an honourary secretary in charge of the banking sector and a second honourary secretary in charge of the insurance sector. We have the deputy president at this level. Things must have been resolved before it gets to my table.
What is the working relationship between the TUC and the Labour Congress?
This is the third biggest union under Trade Union Congress [TUC] after the association of the civil servants and PENGASSAN. We have 28 affiliates under the TUC and we are number three. I am the chairperson of the Nigeria Trade Union Women Commission which is made up of all female workers. I’m a member of National Administrative Council [NAC]. I’m also a member of the National Working Committee of TUC. We have synergy and collaboration.
We may not have a direct impact on controlling fraud in banks. Banks workers are professionals that are bound with the ethics of the profession. We always work for the survival of all the financial institutions. The fraud in the financial sector is much these days than in the past. The reason is that in the past we have human beings working on a part-time basis, but now we have more contract staff. Without disrespecting the character of the contract staff, but I’m trying to make a point.
For instance, if you are an employee of the bank, and your wages is around N200, 000 or N150, 000 as a contract staff what you take home will be about N80,000, or N60, 000. Most of the companies do not allow them to join the union and because of the wages they are earning, most of them are not committed.
Most of the core employees are not the one handling the transactions. The owners of the job are no longer in the bank. Most of these contract staff are not the employees of the bank. We are not campaigning against the outsourcing system, but we are appealing for complete bargaining between the outsourcing companies and the financial institutions. Besides, the Ministry of Labour should manage all the outsourcing firms.
One of the things we are discussing with the Ministry of Labour is that, we consider it unfair for anybody to lose his or her job in the financial sector without being compensated or given another opportunity to have another life.
If you are working with any outsource firm when you resign, you get nothing. What the banks pay the outsource firms is not what they pay to the ad-hoc staff. I have never met a contract staff in Nigeria who has been compensated after losing his or her job. Yet, no one is monitoring this development.
How long does a contract employee stay before she is converted to a full-fledged staff?
With my exposure, I’ve measured how this is done in foreign countries. In Nigeria, what we do is always domesticated and we do not do it properly. Ideally, there should be an employee, employer and government relationship. This is because if you run anything that is not in line with the High Hello Convention, you can run to the government. But unfortunate in Nigeria, Government is seen more with the employers.
Also, because of fear of unemployment, the majority of our people, when they are about to be employed they don’t think about the outcome. They think of their take-home pay per year. They didn’t think very well before signing an agreement. Most unemployed people are so desperate to get employment without looking at the job agreement. It’s unfortunate that the employers are seriously catching on this. They will tell you that you cannot belong to the union because they know the union will fight on their behalf.
How can the Pension Scheme be sanitized?
According to the Pension Fund Act [PFA Act 2014], it states that all Nigerians should have a PFA and that the contributions should be sent by the companies. What most organisations pay is on total emoluments, though the current Act is saying we should pay the gross, which will affect the employee more because of their final take home.
The inflation rate in Nigeria is so high that anything that takes immediate money from the employee is not suitable. By the time employees retire, that rate will not pick the current rate. I think if our pension can be attached to the mortgage so that at the end of your active days if you are retired you are sure of owning a house.
You have been chosen as one of the Top 20 CEOs in the industry and how does that make you feel?
I appreciate the recognition. Most of our members are now ICT-equipped. This is for us to have some soft-skills that robots don’t have. This is because people are losing their works now because of robots. ICT is now leading us to the fourth industrial revolution.