Almost two weeks after 116 allegedly “forced to resign” staff of the United Bank of Africa dragged the financial institution to court, the bank is yet to file any response.
On January 3, UBA in a move described as corporate right-sizing retrenched over 3,000 of its workers.
On February 13, the ex-workers through the Lagos Division of National Industrial Court in a suit marked NICN/La/112/2020 brought against the UBA, sued the bank for wrongful termination of work, unconscionable and oppressive loan award, discriminatory and unfair labour practice, defamation of character among other claims made by the claimants.
The retrenched workers prayed the court to award them N2billion each for breach of contract and wrongful termination of employment.
The claimants are also suing the bank for N10million to be awarded to each petitioner on basis of defamatory and derogatory comments made by Tony Elumelu, UBA Groups chairman on January 6, 2020, at the Amphitheatre of the UBA House in Lagos.
“The Chairman of UBA, Mr Tony Elumelu announced to all staff and the whole world that the claimants are Toxic Inputters and Disconnected Individuals.”
“The claimants were never at any time given any query for non-performance or for being toxic imputers or disconnected individuals. The defendant made the claim to lower the estimation of the claimants in the eyes of right-thinking members of society,” the suit stated.
The suit claimed the bank had made available personal loans which were “unconscionable and oppressive loans with interest at the rate of 18 per cent and 1.5 per cent for insurance.”
However, with the staff being asked to resign, instead of getting a sack letter, the insurance benefits were not awarded to the bankers.
Meanwhile, a source close to the bank revealed that the insurance company-HIERS Insurance Brokers- which is also part of the Elumelu business empire knowing as HIERS Holdings was to handle the insurance scheme.
Furthermore, the petition claimed the bank tactfully foisted the loans on them for two reasons; because the bank wanted to meet up with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Loan to Deposit Ratio, secondly, the petitioner said the UBA in accordance to already laid down plan used the loan as a ploy to swindle the petitioners out of the benefits due to the retrenched workers.
Hence, the 116 ex-bankers is seeking an order, cancelling the loans or alternatively, asking the bank to apply insurance proceeds to the payment of the outstanding loans and update their terminal benefits.
Meanwhile, the claimants said during the course of employment, UBA made 2.5 per cent deductions from their salaries for National Housing Fund (NHF) contribution but have failed to remit the funds in line with the applicable law and have been denied access to housing loans under the NHF scheme.