The President of the University Education Students Association, Alhagie B Sama said his executive yesterday engaged the management of the GTUCCU over the growing concern of teachers on a number of resolutions made by the cooperative union.
At the meeting Sama asked the audience to summarise their daily crossfires on all burning teacher financial issues to the audience of the management of the credit union.
Omar Jawara, who claimed to be representing a taskforce committee called ‘Concerned GTUCCU Members’, stated that teachers were first compelled to join the credit union to achieve financial freedom but their social contract with the cooperative is being undermined by new regulations. Mr Jawara stated that the idea of increasing members compulsory saving from four thousand to six thousand dalasi per annum is unjustifiable to a salary earner of two to three thousand, noting that the amount of savings should be left to the choice of members.
He also argued that the system should rely on its liquidity to finance future projects rather than sponsoring resolutions to deduct funds from members. He also pointed out that members are disappointed with the decision to replace annual meetings of general membership to bias representation.
In response, the general manager of the Gambia Teachers’ Union Cooperative Credit Union (GTUCCU), Baboucarr O Joof urged the cooperative’s 2017 delegates to instil greater financial discipline in its members.
The GTUCCU manager reminded members at the meeting that the credit union which has over twenty three thousand members was established under the ‘Cooperative Act’ of 1993 with intention to empower teachers. He noted that annual resolutions are passed to the credit registry for verification and approval before they become legally binding.
Mr Joof argued that the resolution to increase the saving of members is to condition them to save so that they can live above poverty. “At the credit union, if you save, you must borrow, and this kind of innovation is what makes us outstanding.”
Above all, he said the cooperative is flexible on its financial policies such as the one deterring members to contract a loan on top of an existing loan, or withdrawing from savings without complete repayment of loan.
He admitted that the credit union is interested in more money but for the interest of members. He stressed that gone are days when a teacher retires after forty years of active service to a zero dalasi account. Recently, he recalled, a female teacher who retired with over one hundred thousand dalasi in her account is not complaining of a four thousand compulsory saving.
Baboucarr O Joof further stated that if every teacher insists on withdrawing what belongs to them, the credit union will die a natural death.
On the issue of representation, he responded that it is not logistically feasible for the entire membership of the cooperative to participate in one meeting. He added that the board of directors of the credit union have noted down concerns such as loan interest rates, communication gaps, and real estate schemes to be given due attention.