Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mass sacking Looms at O)ceanic Bank Plc

Indications emerged on Monday that the management of Oceanic International Bank Plc was set to lay-off about 1,400 workers in a cost cutting exercise desfined to return the bank to the path of profitability.

It was learnt that the figure represents 40 per cent of the bank’s 3,500 employees.

Findings by our correspondent further showed that the management of the bank, which declared a loss of N286bn on Friday had also approved 30 per cent salary reduction.

Already, 250 of the affected workers had received their sack letters in an exercise aimed at pruning down the bank’s workforce and cutting down operational costs.

A reliable source in the company told our correspondent on Monday that the list of the remaining 1,150 workers slated for early disengagement from the bank was ready. The source said their sack letters would soon be released.

It was gathered that the first casualties in the phased exercise were shown the way out of the bank for sundry offences, especially that their personal accounts were in the red.

Consequently fear has gripped the employees of the bank in the wake of the latest development.

Oceanic Bank is one of the troubled banks rescued by the Central Bank of Nigeria, which examined the books of the 24 banks in the country. The erstwhile management of the bank, headed by Mrs. Cecelia Ibru, was sacked on August 14 along with four other bank chiefs for granting huge non-performing loans, which affected the wellbeing of the financial institutions.

The Managing Director of the bank, Mr. John Aboh, had at a news conference in Lagos recently, said the pruning exercise was inevitable in view of the state of the bank. Aboh, was, however, silent on the details and magnitude of the exercise.

Aboh also said that some unviable branches of the bank had been shut down as part of measures to salvage the ailing financial institutions.

However, investigation by our correspondent showed that the management had compiled and approved a list of 1,400 workers to be eased out of the bank. A top official of the bank told our correspondent on Monday that the Aboh-led management had authorised the list for implementation.

The source further stated that the sack of about 250 officials of the bank last week was a prelude to the full implementation of the decision of the management.

The source stated, “I can tell you authoritatively that 250 workers have already been sacked for all manners of offences, including that their personal accounts were in debt. The management just started with that figure because the target is 40 per cent of the bank’s workforce of 3,500. To be specific, no fewer than 1,400 employees of the bank, which represents 40 per cent of the workforce, would be sacked at the end of the exercise.

“The management has also agreed to 30 per cent salary reduction.

“The management is very serious and committed to the exercise. Already, the workers in the administration department of the bank have been scattered and transferred to different parts of the country, especially the northern axis.

“Confusion and apprehension reign in Oceanic Bank because of the decision of the management. We just pray that the managing director will rescind the decision because of the acrimony that is likely to result from the implementation,” added the source who craved anonymity.

When contacted on the telephone, Aboh, who reiterated that sacking of workers was inevitable, however, said that it was premature to speculate on its details.

He added that it was not true that 40 per cent of the workforce would be affected.

Aboh, who confirmed that some workers were sacked last week, said the figure was less than 250. But he declined to specify the exact figure.

He said, “We are not done with the process yet because we are observing all procedures. We are looking at all files to enable us draw reasonable conclusion on the way forward. I told journalists at a press conference recently about the exercise (sacking of workers), but we are not ready for it yet. Wait until we do it,” Aboh added.


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