By Nelson Manneh
The Gambia Milling Corporation (GMC) staff on Monday, 10 April, 2017 held another peaceful strike at the company’s main gate in Banjul.
According to Amadou Kah, a staff working at the said company, the reason why they are on strike again is because after the first strike, eight (8) of their colleagues were suspended by management, accusing them of leading the first strike.
“During the first strike, a labour department official and Garba Cham, the secretary general of the workers union, were there. They asked us to select few of our colleagues to represent us as they will discuss with the management of the company. So the eight who are suspended are the ones who represented us there”, he explained.
Kah added that all the employees were given warning letters except the eight who are expelled. He said they reported the matter to the labor department who invited the management of the company for a meeting and they failed to turn out instead they sent a representative who was not able to answer the questions raised during the meeting. “It is not fair that all of us embarked on the strike and only few are suspended, it would have been better if they expel all of us”, he stated.
Commissioner Sowe of the Gambia Police Force who came with some police officers to calm the tension, in a discussion with some of the employees during the strike said demonstrations of this kind is not a solution to such problems. “We cannot leave you to continue with this strike since you are without a permit. You have to go through the right channel to be permitted to hold on a strike”, he advised.
Commissioner Sowe told the staff to disperse from the territory and go home. He also advises them to contact Garba Cham, the secretary general of the worker’s union to take a step and if necessary take the matter to court.
On Tuesday, 11 April, 2017 the two parties were invited by the department of labour, Mr. Barrow told the two parties that the minister of trade is aware of the problem and promises to meet the staff and the management to discuss and come to terms. “The Honourable Minister is aware of the dispute and they are going to look at the demands of the staff and how to give a permanent solution to them”.
The secretary general of the workers union, Mr. Garba Cham advised the staff to be patient as the matter will be solved. “As far as the minister is aware of the matter then we have to respect her order and allow her to work on it as she said she will call a meeting with the two parties, so let’s give her respect and wait for her”.
It could be recall that the staff of GMC Company held their first strike sometime in March 2017, where they showed their dissatisfaction with the way the management is treating them. Those dismissed are: Mariama Jallow, Amadou Kah, Joseph Carrol, Habinou Bojang, Njaga Joof, Omar Saho, Anta Jobe and Marie Catherine.