By Yankuba Jallow
Ebrima Garba Cham, the Secretary-General of National Trade Union Congress on behalf of workers has called for the unionization of the civil service during his May Day speech yesterday.
“Civil Servants must and should belong to unions,” Cham detailed, adding that the government should consider this when reviewing the labour laws.
He said the civil servants are workers and should be part of the ‘May-Day’ celebration, adding that this is in accordance with article 98 of the Convention which The Gambia has ratified and domesticated.
He said the suspension of some staff of the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation for six (6) months was unlawful adding that the laws provide for only two (2) weeks suspension.
“The law is that suspension should not go beyond two (2) weeks and they were unfairly treated,” Cham indicated.
Every year on the 1st of May, May Day is commemorated. The theme for this year’s ‘May-Day’ is “Building the Worker’s Power, Change the Rules”. This year’s ‘May-Day’ Sports have 29 institutions whilst last year it was 70.
Cham said the ‘May-Day’ is for renewal and reaffirmation of your adherence to the principles enshrined in the international accords and protocols signed to be reminded of the plight of workers all over the world. He added that the occasion is a stock-taking of the conditions in upholding and promoting the principles of justice, equal remuneration for work of equal value, and appropriate work conditions.
He said workers are the actors of development and there is nothing in this world that is not created by workers.
Resolution of the Workers
They urged the government to formulate a tripartite task force that will constantly monitor the implementation of General Terms and Conditions of employment at workplaces with a view to addressing emerging problems between workers and employers on the spot, rather than allowing the parties to resort to Industrial Tribunals where matters sometimes drag for years at the expense of poor employees.
They said the increment in the salaries and pensions is welcomed and applauded, however, the increase in pay for pensioners and low-income earners does not commensurate with minimum standards of living in the country. They urged the government to set up a Salary Review Commission to revisit and still adjust the increments upwards for pensioners and low-income earners.
Government to Build Central Car Park in KM
They said the phenomenon of random parking and movement of vehicles with the KM being a busy metropolitan area in the country creates an avenue for thugs and vandals; and a serious threat to life and property. They said the situation calls for proper attention thus they urged the government to establish a Central Car Park through KMC for proper traffic management, security and ease of commuters as well.
“We can address the issue of traffic congestion within 2 hours if the government consults with us,” Garba Cham stated.
He said people pay three fares from Banjul to Tabokoto which according to the workers is uncalled for.
Cham indicated that Gambians engaged in the transport sector lack opportunity which he said, foreigners have, adding that foreigners are in control of the transportation of goods and services. He demanded that Gambians should control the means of production or else there will be no meaningful development.
Mismanagement of Public Funds
Given testimonies at the Janneh Commission of misuse of large sums of money at the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation, they urged the government to establish a Social Security Board to monitor funds of the scheme for proper accountability.
Also, they demanded that the government should introduce Regional Technical Training Institutes for professional scientific input with the view to further develop the scientific base of the country.
The workers demanded that no police should confiscate drivers’ documents resulting to loss of licences, insurances, national identity cards, among other important documents. They held that it is only the court that is mandated to seize these documents and apart from the courts, no person or authority has the mandate to seize documents from drivers. They called on the government to introduce a decentralizing mechanism to help mitigate the problem as a matter of urgency.
The workers urged the government to provide farmers with adequate quality seeds and appropriate farm implements and fertilizer for maximum crop yield.
The workers demand that the increase in tax/duty on domestic produce is exorbitant and that the government is urged to revisit the new tariff and reverse to 25% tax and 15% VAT to help alleviate suffering in some quarters. Further, the workers demanded that the government should review the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act 2012.
The workers demand that registration of fishing companies must be on condition that they own at least a fishing trawler and to discharge catches in the country for local consumption and export. This according to the workers would ensure a positive contribution towards creating employment and foreign exchange earnings and to boost growth in the GDP.
Lamin Jobe, the Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment said the government of The Gambia recognises that the country’s most critical resource is its people, who are not only the drivers of its development but also at the pinnacle of its development agenda.
“Therefore, efforts are being made to provide the necessary support for the development of human capital,” the Minister said.
He said his Ministry is reviewing the Labour Act 2007 and is also developing employment policy and action plan to ensure a smooth and vibrant labour market for harmonious industrial relation and increased productivity which conform to international standard and best practices.