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Thursday, October 05, 2017

Fidelity Bank: Let my people go!

This is to call on people of goodwill and friends of Fidelity family to prevail on the current Management of Fidelity Bank to pay its ex-staff their entitlements.

 It is callous and wicked to be paying Senior Advocates to argue in favour of not paying the ex-staff their entitlements after decades of hard work.

This call is also to the Catholic Church of Nigeria which has been one of the greatest beneficiary of donations from Fidelity Bank and the core owners of Fidelity Bank either in personal capacity or as the former Governor Peter Obi and present Governor Willy Obiano both from Anambra State.

The Catholic Church over the years has exerted some considerable influence within the institution. Now is the time for it to exert for fairness, equity and justice.

The men and women of the Church should prevail on the bank to pay the entitlement due to the ex-staff including that of many sons and daughters of the SE states.

I went through this institution when it was at its greatest glory so I know the facts of the matter.

Fidelity bank has a staff policy that allows two kinds of retirement. A staff must compulsorily retire at the age of 55 years or he can choose to retire at the end of 15 years of continuous service. The second option is voluntary as the staff can choose to stay on till age of 55 years if the 15 years of service arrived first.

It is not a secret that Fidelity bank pays slightly lower over the years compared with its peers. But staff doesn’t worry because they know they have a day of harvest on retirement.

Last December, the Management decided to stop the retirement policy and paid only people that have achieved 15 years of service their entitlements. But there were some who were in their 10th year, 11th years, 12th and 13th years etc. There were even people who were few days and months from that important day of 15th year.
That retirement bonus is not earned at 15th year. It is earned on daily basis but paid when the person has clocked 15 years in service.

 The Management decided not to pay them and that the policy has caught up with them. These staff and their families had an uncertain and sad Christmas celebration. That shows how callous the decision was. Those were one category of affected staff.

The other category were those who started careers as contract staff and were later converted to full staff. As contract staff, they were employed under a subsidiary of the bank called Fidelity Union Securities Ltd, an action that was then rooted in the wicked aspect of capitalism.

They were employed to do the work of core staff but were paid contract salaries in order to declare huge profit. Many were converted as full staff few years later after meeting the condition for conversion. Majority never got converted.

 Meanwhile Fidelity bank was the payer of all staff salary regardless of the cadres. Many contract staff never knew FUSL  beyond what was on their offer letter.

Please note that when these staff got to the benchmark of 5th, 10th and 15th year anniversary, Fidelity bank not the subsidiary FUSL paid the bonuses for those milestones of years.

 When it now got to payment of retirement benefits, Fidelity bank was first reported to be saying they were not paid because they spent some years as contract staff regardless of its own record that acknowledged those milestones with bonuses and congratulatory letters/cards.

 In fact many have retired in the 30 years of Fidelity bank existence using their employment date with FUSL to get their entitlements.

 It was argued when the ex-staff petitioned the CBN – Central Bank of Nigeria - earlier that since Fidelity bank did not give those  staff new employment letter on conversion , then continuation of the previous contract was implied. So Fidelity lost at that level yet refused to pay the staff.

At the court of law now because of this position, Fidelity bank is claiming they were never its staff. The bank is also claiming all those who were paid in the past were in error. That those milestones of years of services were in error on its part. That all promotion letters in the letterhead of Fidelity bank were all in errors.

If you minus the 15 years from 30 years, you will see that these core of staff were those who worked to see the bank through the turbulent years.

For a person who joined Fidelity bank when it was just four branches and  left when it has over 200 branches, it is painful to see friends and colleagues that i have worked with go through the psychological trauma when they are supposed to be reaping the fruit of years of dedication, selfless service and unparalleled loyalty.

 I know not just few of the people who were being sought ten years ago with mouthwatering offers by competition but the love for Fidelity bank was most paramount to them.

Fidelity bank of today is a good example of how loyalty does not pay in the corporate world and a classic example of how an institution can be destroyed within a short while. Fidelity bank today is a microcosm of what the whole country is. The notion that when you are a part of a family, you don't destroy it has been lost due to the insensitivity of the Management.

Fidelity bank, that our place and institution of pride suddenly became place where drivers publicly demonstrated against corporate mistreatment. Fidelity a name synonymous with "Trust" had become a name that is seen on very industrial infraction and where a Managing Director had become a courier for money launderers.

Nebolisa Arah, the man who conceptualised the bank and led it through the first 15 years of its existence must be having his head down to see the institution he build from scratch become a place of ridicule and litigations.

Fidelity bank should pay my people their pro-rated entitlements so they can move on to their next stage of life with full optimism.


*Yomi Agbetola, 

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