By Saikou Suwareh Jabai and Kebba Mamburay
The Gambia Teachers Union on Thursday 21st September 2017 held its mid-term review delegates congress at Paradise Suites Hotel to celebrate the growthand successes of the union as well as reflect on the challenges that fact educators and trade unionists.
The theme for the event was “Rethinking youth and women engagement in union work with specific reference to the Gambia Teachers Union”.
Martin Gomez, President Gambia Teachers Union in his remarks said, government and the public must realize that teachers are central in preparing our nations in meeting the challenges of today and the new millennium.
Mr Gomez added that, it is time teachers are given the moral, material and institutional support the need to enhance the standards that their 21st century challenges require, saying: “teachers need decent wages, good learning and working environment”.
Mr. Gomez said they need societal recognition based on the value of their work. “Our schools must be fully equipped for teachers to provide basic skills, create an opportunity for critical thinking, for the key to excellence and productivity is through innovation and enterprise, lifelong learning and technological literacy”, he went on.
He noted that, there should be adequate investment in instructional materials, saying, GTU will continue to promote the economic and intellectual welfare of her members.
By focusing on welfare and professionalism, the Bottrop Senior Secondary School Principal said, they will be able to help students realize their potentials while at the same time gaining job satisfaction and progressing in their careers.
GTU General Secretary Marie Antoinette Corr said women are underrepresented in leadership positions in unions, which she added, remains a serious concern which should be constantly raised in all constitutional structures.
“It is equally important to note that young people are critical to the future of trade unionism and to the strength, effectiveness and legitimacy of trade union organisations. Therefore, it is important that unions respond better in their policies and activities to the needs and expectations of young people, make them feel welcome and remove the obstacles that prevent their full participation”, he added.
Guest speaker of the occasion Alhagie Omar J. Ndure in his opening remarks said, youth and women in trade union organisation for the strongest of the pillars and therefor challenge GTU to create a youth wing since they have a status of women committee.
He added that, trade unions must engage young people in the non-formal sector to be unionized in order to benefit from union protection. “Young people work long hours in hard conditions for meager salaries, unsafe and harmful working environment, working without contract agreements or with contracts that have legal clauses that would confine them to that job irrespective of poor work conditions”, he pointed out.
Mr Ndure highlighted that, involving and working with young people in trade union work is a viable recipe for the future.
Kebba M. Ceesay, Interim Chairman Gambia Trade Union Bureau in his fraternity message said, with all of them working together they will match toward unifying the labor movement.