Minister Isatou Touray and Union leader Garba Cham leading the march at the stadium

By Kebba Secka / Yankuba Jallow 

The Secretary General of the Gambia Trade Union Congress Mr. Ebrima Garba Cham, has called on Government to consider the rising cost of living and improve the salaries, pensions and allowances of workers. Mr. Cham said Government should pay special attention to the soaring price of commodities and house rent among others, to give workers decent pay.

Mr. Cham was giving a speech to commemorate Workers Day, held at the Independence Stadium on Tuesday, May 1st.  Cham said the demands of workers should be considered by Government as a matter of extreme urgency. “They should leave a legacy now and for the future,” he said.

Cham in his speech urged Government to establish a central car park in both Banjul and the Kanifing Municipality, as a control measure for vehicles to stop the triple payment of transport fares and traffic congestion; that the transport workers are concerned over police seizing licenses and insurance certificates from drivers which he said, is sometimes lost in the hands of the police.

Cham further urged Government to make the required legislation that will be in the best interest of the Gambian worker and promote the independence of the judiciary; that the Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment on behalf of Government, should consider the tripartite taskforce set up by Workers, to implement and monitor the General Terms and Conditions of Employment at work places, both in the public and private sectors.

“This could be done in a view to address emerging problems on the spot, rather than resorting to the Industrial Tribunal, that would drag for years,’’ he said. 

According to Mr. Cham, a conducive work environment goes beyond the demands for adequate remunerations and ideal working conditions and that this requires the unity of purpose among workers for the protection and promotion of their interests.

Mr. Cham also used the opportunity to remind workers to inculcate the spirit of peace and harmony at their work places, if they want to achieve their objectives. ‘‘Your approach to dialogue is a tool for dispute resolution in the Labor market. It is one of the secrets to economic success. I assure you of the Unions continued support in our struggle to uplift the plight of workers,’’ he assured.

Cham suggested that Government through the Chief Justice, should consider the withdrawal of Lawyers from the industrial tribunals in consonance with the Labour Act, and expedite the cases therein.

On the plight of dock workers, Cham said a lot of foreign trade passes through world ports and as a result, dock workers the world over, are demanding their right to work; that daily, they demonstrate to show the importance of their profession, their capacity and recognition for their contribution to nation building.

Dilating on the significance of the day, the Minister for Trade, Regional Integration and Employment Dr. Isatou Touray, said the theme for this year’s celebrations ‘‘Expectations of Workers in the New Gambia’’, was befitting; that this calls for concerted efforts to bring to the fore, the aspirations of the workers for the realization of their dreams. She used the occasion to announce that 1,300 youth have benefitted from the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) in many ways including different market-oriented skills, entrepreneurship and business support skills.

“YEP has worked with 240 micro, small and medium size enterprises to strengthen their capacities. It does not only support them with training but supports young Gambians with equipment and access to finance to make sure that they acquire skills and knowledge that could be translated into jobs and income”, she said.

According to Touray, in October 2017 Government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), agreed to a four year programme to support private sector led growth, as encapsulated in the Country’s develop plan. ‘‘This project will therefore commensurate the provision of support to national and sub-national institutions, to enable the achievement of structural transformation of productive capacities that are sustainable’’, She said. She informed them that Government is aware of the problems faced by Gambian Workers and said the Government of Adama Barrow is committed to satisfying their conditions. She urged them to familiarize themselves with their fundamental human rights and explore due procedures of respect, to fight for their rights. She reminded the gathering that Gambia is a peace-loving country and we should jealously safeguard this by respecting the rights of one another.  

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