By Kebba Secka
Mamadou Kambi, president of the tally clerk association has reiterated the need for tally clerks working at the GPA to be integrated into the Gambia Port Labour Scheme.
He said their Labour Rights have been infringed for eight years on. According to him, the amendment of the Labour Act under section 120 has mandated them to be integrated into the GPA, which the management of GPA failed to adhere to. He narrated that the Port management once told the former government that they want both the dock workers and tally clerks to be integrated into the Gambia Ports Authority.
“When the former government accepted GPA’s proposal to integrate the dock workers and tally clerks, the Port Labour Board Rules were changed and subsequently taken to the National Assembly for repeal,” he said.
Kambi further stated that since then, the dock workers who signed that they will make no claims against GPA were paid their severance package and were now recruited by the GPA while leaving the tally clerks to struggle for integration. He said when they exhausted all efforts to be integrated, they then instituted a civil suit against Port’s Management at the High Court, adding they subsequently agreed to solve the matter outside court.
“Our severance package, was finally settled last year by the GPA but the integration is a burning issue,” explained the President of Tally Clerks.
He emphasized that they will never relent in pursing their legal rights to be integrated into the GPA Labour Scheme like it is done for the dock workers. Recollecting several engagements they had with the authorities, Kambi said former GPA’s managing directors, Modou Lamin Gibba and Lamin Sanyang as well as Ousman Jorbateh, current managing director of GPA were all engaged.
“The authorities should not refuse to integrate us. They need to respect the constitution because an Act of Parliament should not be put aside but to be respected and enforced,” he asserted. Asked what level they have engaged with the government of the day about their plight, the Tally Clerks’ president said they had engaged the ministry of trade where they submitted some documents to buttress their claims as well as indicate how section 120 of the Labour Act is violated. The work of tally clerks includes recording all shipping agencies, recording data for all ships that enter or leave the waters of the country.
“We have first-hand information of the ships that enter or leave Gambian waters. We provide this vital information to the GPA, the shipping community and the government at large,” he explained. He went on to state that based on the information they do collect, Ports and government all depend on them. According to him, their wages directly come from charterers whose ships dock at Banjul sea port after any completed service. He added that neither the dock workers nor the tally clerks were directly paid by the GPA prior to coming into force of section 120. He concluded by asking why the GPA has been recruiting dock workers as per section 120 and decide to leave out the tally clerks?