BY KEBBA MASANEH CEESAY, CHAIRMAN
TRADE UNION BUREAU OF THE GAMBIA (GAMTUB)
I take this opportunity on behalf of the Gambia Trade Union Bureau which is composed of The Gambia Labour Congress and its affiliates(Gambia Labour Union, Gambia Transport, Agriculture, Food and Industrial Workers union, Gambia Horticulture and General Workers Union, Gambia Hotel, Restaurant and Catering Workers union, The National Committee of Informal Workers union, The Committee for Public Service Employees, The Maritime and Dock Workers Union of GPA and the Gambia Pensioners Association)The Gambia Teachers Union and The Gambia Press Union to congratulate the entire working fraternity, Employers and Government on this historical memorial day of remembrance and solidarity Like all other Countries this day is marked with Rallies and Marches by workers in manifestation of their grievances and demands for better living standard and decent work as it was the case when workers lost their lives in 1886, the Hay Market in Chicago fighting for the rights and dignity of workers. May their souls rest in perfect peace while we continue the fight against all forms of exploitation.
Before going further let me pay tribute to our Trade union Leaders in the Gambia who have laid the foundation and made significant gains for Gambian workers. There are many but let me just name a few: First let on this list is Edward Francis Small the Founder of the first Trade union organsition in The Gambia, The Gambia Labour Union to which I proudly belong. Kebba Njie the founder of the first Transport union in The Gambia, Alhai B.B. Kebbeh, M.E.Jallow commonly known as Jallow Jallow Union, Muhammed Masaneh Ceesay known as M.M. founder of the Gambia Labour Congress, Henry Foster founder of the Gambia Farmers Union, Daddy Sowe the founder of the most talked about Transport Control Association
May day is celebrated in other countries by workers Rallies, Marches and Mass Meetings to vent out grievances and concerns affecting their working condition. Unfortunately here in the Gambia because of disunity and because most workers unions are not unionized or organized they chose to use Governments and Employers platform by way of May Day Sports to celebrate Workers Day. Certainly we have a lot to ask for in order to better our living standards and we should be able to hold our own event to express those concerns such as high cost of living. poor wages, poor working condition, frequent t unfair labour practices perpetuated by scrupulous employers, and to demand our rightful position in the socio economic development of the Country.
The Labour Movement must be prepared to unite into one National Labour front in order to work with government in ensuring decent work that involves opportunities for work, which are productive and deliver income, security in the work place and social protection for our families; decent work that provides better prospects for personal development and social integration.
This is the very reason why in July 2017 Trade union leaders form the Gambia Labour Congress, The Gambia National Trade Union Congress, The Gambia Teachers Union and the Gambia Press Union converged at the Senegambia Beach Hotel under the auspices of the international Trade Union Confederation and signed an agreement to form a working committee with a view to creating a united Labor organization, Gambia Trade Union Bureau (GamTUB). GamTUB has since its inception undertaken many activities towards reorganising and revitalising the Trade UnionMovements in the Gambia given the fact that the Labor Movement has been saturated by Trade Unions most of which are not well organized.
In its drive to re organdie the Sectoral Unions GamTUB embarked on a series of capacity building of Trade Union leaders. As a result, with the cooperation of the Solidarity Center, a non-Governmental organisation based in the United states of America carried out the following activities:
· Capacity Assessment for GamTUB Leaders
· Mapping Workshop for Transport Unions and Informal Sector
· Training of Trainers for Transport and Informal Sector
· Trade Union Seminar for Youths and Women
· Leadership Seminar for the Executive Committee Members
In other international relations GamTUB has been receiving assistance from UNISON Hummerside/Yorkshire by way of furniture and financing of the Secretariat. The Convener and Chairperson of the British Labour Party Mrs Wendy Nicols paid a visit to the Gambia in February to abreast herself with the development of different projects. UNISON International the biggest Public Service Union in Britain is also working with GamTUB with a view to developing a vibrant Public Service Union in the Gambia.
As a follow up GamTUB has initiated the creation of a Public Service Union and an Informal Workers Union, the latter having a vital role in the economic development of the country to be followed with Unions in the Commercial and Banking sectors, as well as the Health, Municipality and Utilities sectors, including the GSM.
Under the New dispensation of New Gambia we look forward to the Gambia Government through its structures in the new National Employment Policy and in accordance with the ILO convention 122 on Employment policy to give priority to creating Employment and enterprise development, thus promoting Youth employment and women economic empowerment as well as recognising the rights of persons with disability and minorities to productive employment. Social dialogue is a centre for Social justice and must be entrenched in the new Employment Policy. We hope the New Employment Policy will guarantee Youth Training and Youth Employment and woman will not be left behind
Trade Union unity is key to social dialogue and social dialogue is key to social justice. This is why we call on all Trade Union leaders to unite so that we can effectively play a role in the political dispensation of the Gambia for the consolidation of democracy, transparency and accountability.
We applaud Government for responding to trade Union demand for a review of the Labour Act. We also congratulate the Labour Department for validating the Occupational and Health Safety Regulations. It is hoped that the ILO convention on occupational and Health Safety will be ratified in its entirety.
GamTUB’s main call is for Trade unions to Unite and organize the Labour Movement as vibrate and relevant partner to Government. We will continue to sensitize more sectors and create relevant Unions that will eventually be the epic Body of organized Labour in the Gambia.
We cannot end our statement without the usual call for Government to consider. But before that the most important thing for Gambian workers to adhere to is attitudinal change towards work. For Government we submit the following.
1. As this year marks the Centenary of the International Labor Organization we call on the Gambia to consider sending a Tripartite delegation to be led by The Hon Minister and for Gambia to support the I.L.O Convention and recommendation on “Gender Based Violence and Harassment of Men and Women in the World of Work”.
2. To ratify all I.L.O. Conventions relevant to peaceful co-existence in Industrial relation
3. Regarding the pending Trade Union Bill, we have raised some pertinent observation in accordance to International Labour norms on the draft Trade Union Bill and we hope these were taken into consideration.
4. We wish to remind The MOTIE that for Gambia to benefits more from the privileges that the ILO offers to its members it is important that Gambia is updates its financial obligations to this Body.
5. We recommend that the existing J.I.C. (which came about in 1962) be done with and that we adopt the ILO conventions on minimum Wage and Collective Bargaining.
6. We appreciate the initiative taken by Government to increase salaries a call that has been ignored by the previous Government. However it is a fact that because of the high rate of inflation cost of living has sky rocketed. In this vein we call on Government to institute a Salary Revision Commission so that workers’ salary will commensurate with the cost of living
7. A special review is required for the Pensioners. COLLABORATION WITH ACTRAV OF THE INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANISATION
We are in contact with the ILO Workers Education Unit, ATRAV to develop a workers education programme as well as support Trade Unions, that to enable them contribute in the activities of the ILO for the benefit of the workers.
Once gain we congratulate H E the President of the Republic, the entire working Class Movement and the Employers.
God Bless The Republic