By Amadou Jadama
Members of the Gambia Dock and Maritime Workers Union yesterday embarked on a sit-down strike demanding that the GPA address their working conditions. The workers said these include health insurance, risk allowances among others.
Lang Balla Sawo, the president of the union, told The Standard that the Gambia Ports Authority does not want to take the welfare of dock workers seriously, hence the industrial action.
He alleged that while GPA staff are given access to good medical care, dock workers who are vulnerable to more hazards are left to fend for themselves when they get sick. “Imagine how dangerous working in the container terminal with all the risks from heavy machines and metal containers,” he said.
He said the GPA management increased salaries of senior and junior staff but no such facilities were extended to the dock workers. ”We brought this to their attention since May but to no avail, so the Union decided to go on strike so that our demands can be met ,“ Mr Sawo noted.
According to him, there are 524 dock workers who have been struggling with this problem for 13 years now, since they were transferred from the labour department to the GPA.
However, by the end of official hours yesterday, the Union announced the GPA management has met them and promised to meet their demands and so they are calling off the strike.