Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Oceanic Bank Workers Opt For a Union

Oceanic Bank Workers Opt For a Union

By Dagga Tolar

The so-called “higher standard of service” dished out by a majority of the new generation banks is largely at the great expense of the workers, who are outright denied the right to belong to a trade union. Workers are made to sign a document, stating their non-interest in the union before coming on the job. The implication is that workers in the banking, insurance and financial related sector of the economy are virtually reduced to casuals.

Following a series of activities, which culminated in the picketing of the headquarters of the Oceanic Bank in Lagos, the management of Oceanic Bank finally agreed to an interactive session with its workforce to discuss the issue of unionisation on July 15, 2006.

In attendance were National and State Officers of National Union of Bank, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE), the Nigeria Labour Congress represented by Linus Ukamba, the head of Lagos office, and representatives of NLC Anti-Casualisation Committee. The Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights (CDWR) which had been part of the struggle from the outset was also present.

The union leaders emphasised the fundamental rights of workers to form and belong to a union and also tried to point out the benefit of a union in workplace for both workers and management. The management however thought differently. They stated that Oceanic Bank was better without a union and that they have so far operated on the basis that “we are all one family and management in turn loves you”. This was met with thunderous response of “No! No!! No!!!” from the workers.

The workers actually demonstrated their resolve to belong to the union of the choice by obtaining membership forms of NUBIFIE there and then. They in fact went further to elect members into the Steering Committee of the Oceanic Bank unit of NUBIFIE.

Those elected are: Benson Joseph (Chairman), Lucky Folamoye (Vice-Chairman), Peter Dio (Secretary) Dancel Ejim (Asst. Secretary), Anthony Emelue (Treasurer), Clement Ediale (Auditor 1) and Agbemre Goddy (Auditor 2).

4 copies of CDWR anti-casualisation pamphlets were sold at the event.

The CDWR demands:

  • Full recognition of the democratic right of workers to belong to the union of their choice, without victimization of workers leading the agitation.
  • NUBIFIE and NLC should continue to monitor the development at the Oceanic Bank and evolve concrete actions that would pressurize the management to recognize the right of existence of a union.
  • NUBIFIE and the NLC should extend the picketing exercise to other new generation banks to agitate for unionisation of workers.