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Access Bank set to lay off staff, slash salaries amid coronavirus crisis

The bank says it will need to trim its payroll to sustain a lean operation while the coronavirus disruption persists.

Access Bank CEO, Herbert Wigwe [BusinessDay]

Bloomberg reported on Thursday, April 30, 2020 that anonymous sources briefed during a conference call said the salary slash will commence in April.

The report was published hours before a video of the conference call was leaked on social media showing Access Bank CEO, Herbert Wigwe, talking about layoffs and pay cuts.

Wigwe lamented the disruption caused by the highly infectious coronavirus, and said the bank will not need as many workers as it currently has on its payroll. He said this will need significant trimming to balance the books.

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"We probably don't need as many security men as required, especially as we don't have all our branches open between now and December.

"We don't need all the security men, cleaners, tellers, etc. That number of staff, which represents 75% of our staff strength, I think is one that we basically need to speak to their employers with the view to getting them to rationalise to the levels that we think will be necessary to basically sustain a lean, but actually customer service oriented institution," he said.

Although it was unclear to what extent the pay cuts will be effected, Wigwe said adjustments will have to be made to cut down on operational costs, starting with a 40% pay cut of his own income.

"We basically have to make the adjustment. I'll take the largest pay cut which will be as much as 40%.

"The rest I'll have to task it through the institution. Everybody may have to make some adjustment of some sort," he said.

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During the bank's 31st Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday, Wigwe said the effect of cutting down costs would be felt mostly in the second, third and final quarter of 2020.

Just like everywhere across the world, the coronavirus pandemic has crippled economic activities as many governments have been forced to shut down to contain the spread of the disease.

Lagos, Ogun, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja have been in total lockdown since March 30, with banks only allowed to run skeletal services.

Even though the lockdown is set to be eased on Monday, May 4, the Federal Government has directed banks to only operate between the hours of 8 am and 2 pm.

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In the leaked video, Wigwe said the company will "revert to what is normal" when things improve in the future.

"We understand the difficulty people are going through, but we also understand the higher calling of creating an institution that can continue to provide for us," he said.

According to its latest earnings report, Access Bank recorded a profit after tax of N40.9 billion in the first quarter period ended March 31st, 2020.

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