VIEWS OF TRADE UNIONS With Ousman Sillah The Gambia joined the rest of the world in commemorating International Workers’ Day on the 1 May with the usual march pass parade followed by a sporting event involving workers in the civil service, parastatal bodies, private sector and trade union representatives.This year’s event was held at the main square in Banjul where the parade culminated with the usual speeches delivered by a representative of the unions highlighting the working conditions of workers and renewing their demands for improvement and for government to also indicate its commitment to addressing labour concerns. Foroyaa will be presenting the statements and views of representatives of trade unions in the Gambia as part of their commemoration of Workers Day 2015. In this edition, we will be presenting the statement delivered by Mr. Ousman Drammeh, on behalf of the Gambia Labour Congress and its affiliates in commemoration of May Day 2015. BISIMILAHI RAHMANI RAHEEMI Honourable Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, other ministers and members of diplomatic corps present, managing directors and heads of departments, special mention to our own Commissioner of Labour, distinguished invitees, fellow brothers and sisters, members of the labour movement and dear workers,It is with great pleasure, honor and privilege that I am chosen to deliver this speech on behalf of members of the Gambia Labour Congress at this very significant and internationally renowned event, lnternational Labour Day. I salute you all and more specially the Hon Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment Mr. Abdou Jobe. Let me first take this opportunity to congratulate Gambia’s number 1 worker, HE Professor Dr. Alhajie Yaya A.J.J. Jammeh, President of the Republic of The Gambia who leads by the brightness of examples for us in the Gambia and the World. The Gambia Labour Congress and its international labour partners recognise his moral concern for the welfare of the people of the Gambia and have expressed satisfaction on his initiatives as positive in building a stable economy for the Gambia. Before going further, let us remind ourselves the reason why we are all gathered here today. We are here today to celebrate International Labour Day or May Day. May Day is celebrated on the world level to commemorate the 4th May 1886 Haymarket Massacre of workers in Chicago during a workers strike. This day was officially recognised by the ILO in 1891 as a day for workers to hold rallies and demonstrations to commemorate the event as well as promote social and economic achievements as well as the working class rights. We, in the labour movements, have always been working amicably with government to maintain industrial peace so as to promote economic growth. Organized workers are indispensable to government’s efforts to build a viable economy and that is why we in the labour movement have always worked closely with government in order to maintain industrial tranquility and peace. Workers and the Trade Unions are at the heart of our economy as it is the workers that provide food, build facilities and deliver services. We, Workers will always strive for the attainment of high living standards and we dispel the idea that change should come from government alone while we wait passively for delivery. In The Gambia today, over 55% of the population are women and youths. Unemployment is on the rise, even though I don’t have the statistics, hence causing a lot of our young people to go abroad through the back way. It is therefore important that the Government explores ways of enhancing job creation and that the Private Sector should also be involved in finding a path for sustainable job creation. President Jammeh’s immutable steadfastness in pursuing a policy of ‘Grow what we eat and eat what we grow’ has rebounded an all quarters of the continent and many leaders today are following suit. Thank you, Mr. President for your foresight. You can count on our support. I do not intend to make a long speech as this is a rather impromptu statement delivered with a very short notice. However, as it is customary on this day for workers to make resolutions and raise issues with Government and employers on issues affecting the worker, we in the Gambia Labour Congress wish to submit the following: 1. Inflation has been on the rise due to the global economic crises and so like in other countries affected the living standards of the Gambian people. Prices are sky rocketing and causing hardship in some families. Therefore, for this reason, we re-echo our earlier call for a General Salary review in both the Public and Private sectors. 2. In order to make full use of our membership in the ILO, we encourage government to make good of our financial obligations so that we can benefit more from the rights and privileges that members do benefit from. 3. The Gambia Decent Work Country Programme is still not been finalized for Government adoption. We kindly request the Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment to facilitate and in Collaboration with ILO for the completion of this Programme. 4. We also call on the Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment to encourage workers participation in tripartite conferences organised by AU Labour and Social Commission and the ECOWAS. 5. Drivers lives are equally very important as that of the passengers they carry. Therefore we call for all Vehicles insurance to cover drivers. 6. We call for all drivers to be fully contributing to the Provident Fund from their employers so that at retirement they can benefit from pension. 7. We call for the inclusion of the trade union representative in the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC) as the representative of workers. 8. We also want to have a representative in the KMC Traffic Tribunal as well. 9. Because to the delays in cases at the industrial tribunals, we recommend that lawyers should not be encouraged to take part in this tribunal. 10. We cannot end without mentioning an issue that we in the Labour Movement are desirous to see and that is the creation of the Ministry of Labour. We believe that the Ministry of Trade should be relieved of this responsibility. 11. Finally, we call on our Brothers and Sisters in the other Centres to come together and create a united labour platform based on the ILO formula so as to be a meaningful and respectable partner to government. Remember in unity lies our strength. United we stand divided we fall. Long live workers solidarity God bless THE GAMBIA GAMBIA LABOUR CONGRESS BANJUL May, l5 2015.]]>
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