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Ecobank

07.07.2024 Featured Poor Compensation Leaves Ex-Ecobank Employees in Debt After Sudden Sack

Published 7th Jul, 2024

By Abimbola Abatta

Friday, December 22, 2023, was a sad day for more than 150 Ecobank workers across different units and branches in Nigeria, as the bank disengaged them without clear reasons.

Some of the workers told FIJ that what Ecobank gave them as severance pay in February was significantly less than expected, considering their long years of service to the bank.

FIJ learned that although the affected workers, who had worked for 10 to 22 years, were told to pick up their termination letters on December 22, the termination took effect on January 31, 2024.

However, on that Friday in December, the bank disabled these workers on its intranet system and paid them their old salaries for that month, while the unaffected staff got alerts for increased salaries across all levels.

One of the disengagement letters
One of the disengagement letters

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‘ECOBANK DID NOT PAY US WHAT WE DESERVED’

The affected workers described the severance pay they got from Ecobank as poor and unfair compensation. While they anticipated at least a one-year gross salary, one of them said they got a mere four-month net salary. To put this in perspective, someone expecting N10 million, for instance, got N2.5 million.

In reality, many of them got little to nothing because the bank deducted their outstanding loans before paying them what was left of the severance.

FIJ also gathered that some of them ended up with a debit account balance because the severance used to offset their loans was lower than what they owed. So, they had to look for additional money to pay up.

“The payment for January was made when the usual January salary was paid around January 24, 2024, while an ex gratia of four months’ net salary was paid to affected staff on February 13, 2024. The criteria used for the one-month in lieu of notice paid in January was not clear but, obviously, some deductions were made from the usual one-month salary, which made it less than normal by varying percentages,” one of them told FIJ.

“We were expected to be paid severance allowances because the bank’s decision was not a disciplinary action, and it was not a result of performance. But at the end of the day, we were disappointed. We were only paid a mere four-month net salary, not even the gross salary.

“An assistant manager with a gross annual salary of N10,178,000 and a net monthly salary of N644,000 was paid ex gratia of N2.5 million.

“The affected workers were at various levels, ranging from assistant banking officer to senior executive assistant, banking officer, senior banking officer, assistant manager, deputy manager and manager with annual gross salaries ranging from N5 million to N14 million. Some of us were even promoted to new levels in August 2023.

“Some of us who even had one loan or the other with the bank did not even get anything because, by the time that amount was paid, the outstanding loan had swallowed almost the whole amount.”

Another affected worker told FIJ that if the bank had paid what they deserved, their severance pay should have ranged from N6 million to N11 million. But the highest paid among them got about N3 million before the loan deduction.

“The actual severance should have been about N6 million to N10 million or even N11 million based on the old salary, but applying the salary review should be higher than this.

“The bank reviewed salaries in December 2023 and backdated it to November but did not pay the exited staff the new salary,” one of the sources revealed.

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FIJ gathered that one of them, whose severance pay was N2.8 million, had only a N600,000 balance because of a running loan of about N2.2 million that Ecobank deducted from the total amount.

These loans, as explained by FIJ’s sources, were originally issued under the assumption of continued employment, but the sudden terminations frustrated repayment.

Another affected worker had this to say: “I was paid N2.8 million but had a running loan of about N3.6 million. The loan was meant to run for 24 months but was terminated after four months of collecting it. My account was pushed into debit.

“I had to start running around to clear the debt so that interest would not make it go very high. I didn’t have a single kobo to take care of my family from the bank I served wholeheartedly for 17 and a half years.”

READ ALSO: In a Kaduna LGA, Some Teachers Have Not Been Paid Since 2020 Because of a ‘Verification Exercise’

UNACKNOWLEDGED LETTERS, FRUITLESS MEETINGS AMID STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL

Displeased by the inadequate compensation from the bank following its abrupt decision to lay them off, these former employees wrote to Jeremy Awori, the group CEO of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, but got no response.

The former employees also disclosed that the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), their local union, had been in talks with the bank management but no satisfactory resolution had been reached.

According to the affected workers, they learned that the bank had reneged on the agreed payment with the union on economic grounds.

A letter written to the CBN on the matter in February
A letter written to the CBN on the matter in February

“We were rightly informed that they [the bank] signed an agreement with our local union that by the time they would do this exercise [employment termination], a particular amount that would be acceptable would be paid.

“But, at the end of the day, they failed on that agreement. We were also informed that at the meeting the ASSBIFI team had with them, they admitted that what they paid was far less than what they were expected to pay, which means they agreed that they owe us. They need to pay us what we deserve.

“The union has written to the Ministry of Labour and is expecting a response. The bank has frustrated the union and has been avoiding meeting with them. In May, we heard that the bank said it was not ready to pay us anything more.”

Letter to Jeremy Awori
Letter to Jeremy Awori
Letter to Jeremy Awori
Letter to Jeremy Awori

‘WE ARE STILL BLEEDING’

Months after their sudden disengagement, the affected workers are still bleeding.

“The over 160 staff are still bleeding because, after over 15-20 years committed, we were paid peanuts, with the highest being about N3 million. You can imagine over 160 staff with dependents and the crisis that might be in some homes,” said one affected worker.

“Most of us have served that bank for several years. You can imagine someone working for an organisation for 22 years and just being disengaged overnight without being paid adequate compensation,” another added.

“Most of us have been facing a lot of financial mess since the beginning of the year. The majority of us have yet to find our feet in terms of getting another job or even getting something tangible to do because of age and some other factors. We want the management of the bank to do the needful.”

On Thursday, FIJ sent an email to Jeremy Awori, the Group CEO of Ecobank Transnational, as well as the human resource unit of the bank, but no response was received.

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Published 7th Jul, 2024

By Abimbola Abatta

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