Access Bank breaks silence on impending mass sack, pay cut


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•Access Bank GMD/CEO Herbert Wigwe

The Management of Access Bank Plc has finally broken its silence on the leaked video by the bank’s Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Herbert Wigwe, in which he disclosed that the financial institution would soon embark on a mass sack of workers as well as pay cut and branch closures as part of efforts to survive in the post-Coronavirus era.

Access Bank in a statement released over the weekend by the Corporate Communications Department justified the decision, insisting that those penciled don for sack are “outsourced staff such as cleaners, messengers, dispatch riders, note counters, drivers etc.”

Below is the text of the statement entitled “ACCESS BANK PLC BEGINS POST COVID-19 RE-ENGINEERING………..Okays pay cuts, jettisons staff lay off”:

“Following a strategic retreat in preparation for post Covid-19 operations, the Management of Access Bank Plc is taking a bold step to realign the Bank’s operations to fit the gradual unlocking of the economy as announced by the Federal Government.

“The Bank has resolved not to sack any staff opting instead for minimal cuts in pay check for the recession period while at the same time reducing to the minimum, the required doses of outsourced services rendered by Contractors.

“For example, as the lifting of the lockdown unfolds, some of the bank branches may not be operational for now and as a result, outsourced staff such as cleaners, messengers, dispatch riders, note counters, drivers etc., may not be needed. The bank would be contacting the affected service providers stating a significant reduction in the number of their employees that would be needed.

“Access Bank, like many institutions, outsources most of its non-bank functions (such as security, cleaning, etc.). These workers are not employees of the bank. They are primary employees of third-party contractors.

“The realignment in strategy became necessary in view of the need to position the financial institution to optimize its potentials amidst the global effect of Covid-19 on businesses, economies, manufacturing and banking services worldwide. It is part of the bank’s Drive for greater efficiency to enable it withstand global economic recession.

“Analysts believe that the move was not surprising following the spate of strategic realignments by global institutions lately. They argued that only banks with strong capital and asset bases know where they are going and can make far reaching decisions on strategy. They maintain that the fundamentals of the bank are rock solid. The Group delivered solid earnings underscoring the value potentials of the newly expanded business franchise with Gross Earnings of ₦209.8bn, a 31% increase from the prior year. A major driver of this growth is the 58% increase in non-interest income to ₦77.9bn, on the back of improved gains on trading instruments and a decisive approach to grow transaction income sustainably through channels and other E-business.

“Capital and liquidity position remained above regulatory levels, with a Capital Adequacy Ratio of 20.9% and liquidity ratio of 44.6%, demonstrating the capacity of the enlarged balance sheet to cope with possible shocks. Immense focus was also placed on asset quality with a conservative stance, backed with write offs to further drive our NPL ratio down to 5.5% in the period.

“The bank has consistently exhibited robustness and unusual strength. It remains a dominant player in the banking industry. The assets base of the Bank remained strong and diversified with growth of 2% YTD in Total Assets to ₦7.28trn in March 2020 from ₦7.15trn in December 2019. Net Loans and Advances totaled ₦3.15trn as at March 2020 (December 2019: ₦3.06trn), while Customer deposits increased by 5% to ₦4.46trn in March 2020, from ₦4.26trn in December 2019.

“Going forward through the pandemic season, the CEO engaged staff members on how the bank intends to handle the reality forced on it by the coronavirus pandemic that has impacted negatively on institutions world over.

“He explained to them that all staff members would be affected in some degree of reduction in wages with him taking the highest pay cut of 40 per cent.

“The reductions are expected to start from May. However, everything would be restored as soon as the economy returns to normal. “Going into this difficult time we need to rationalize our cost structure, rationalize our service providers and prune our salary structure.

“The challenge of the post Covid-19 period to the world economy presents difficult options to institutions and only proactive CEOs can lead their institutions out of the recession.”

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