By Alhagie Sora The Department of Labour under the auspices of the Ministry of Trade,Nyallow Barrow, Commissioner of Labour Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MoTIE), in partnership with UNDP, on Thursday, 26 March 2015, organised a day-long seminar on the roles and functions of the trade unions in The Gambia at the NaNA conference hall in Mile 7, Bakau.With the theme “Towards a new era in Gambia Trade Unionism”, the training was centred on trade unionism and its roles in the defense of the rights of the workers. It has attracted the participation of different trade unions in the country whose representatives gave their opinions on the lack of capacity in the way the trade union should be run. The objective was to come up with a comprehensive roadmap to make trade unions more effective and also more productive. In his key note address, Mansour Jobe, representing the Registrar General’s office at the Ministry of Justice, welcomed the move which he described as timely. He said every person is entitled under Section 25 (1) of the 1997 Constitution of the Gambia to form and belong to a trade union. “Everyone has the right to join a trade union, but that right is not absolute and in The Gambia this right has never been tested,” he said. Mr Jobe said for an organisation to become a trade union, it is a requirement that it must have at least 50 workers and that the application must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office with written rules, adding that any of the rules should not contravene the Constitution of The Gambia. He disclosed that there are 22 registered trade unions in the Gambia. He said the roles of trade unions include bargaining, serving as intermediary and protecting members from victimization and injustice. Carla Nzombe, UN volunteer and labour specialist, who is attached to the Department of Labour emphasized that the fundamental role of trade unions is to protect the interest of their workers. “Trade Unions play a very vital role in the development of The Gambia. We heard about the problems of regularising Gambian trade unions and that part of it is because they didn’t really understand what the expectations are in accordance with the Labour legislation of the country,” she said. The UN Volunteer added that apart from representing workers, trade unions can also serve as motivating tools to make workers productive. Madam Nzombe said the training would avail them the opportunity to enquire and know what is expected of unions before they can legally represent the interest of the workers. She said a trade union basically needs to work with employers to negotiate and improve the working conditions of the Gambian workers, adding that this is imperative in terms of wages, working conditions and general occupation and safety. Mr. Nyallow Barrow, the Commissioner of Labour, said the aim of the training is to pave a new era for Gambian trade unionism, He said that the Labour Department is working with partners to strategise and to see how to improve the condition of the workers.]]>

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