As we celebrate yet another year marking the International Labour Day, we take this opportunity to pay tribute to those workers that sacrifice their lives fighting for better living standards for the working class. We also take this opportunity to congratulate the number one worker of The Gambia, His Excellency Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia. We will not forget our honorable minister who himself is a trade unionist, once a trade unionist, always a trade unionist. We congratulate him for the very good work he has achieved since his coming into office. He can be rest assured of our continued support.
We congratulate the employers of Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and our partners on this auspicious day as declared by the International Labour Organisation as workers day.
Every year since the United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Workers in the year, 1 May has become a traditional day to celebrate workers or employees and for workers to present their grievances to employers and governments.
As we celebrate workers day this year under the theme; ‘fundamental care revolution’ we salute the first African Director General of the ILO Gilbert F Houngho.
To our comrades in the trade union leadership, we say solidarity and unity, without the latter we will not achieve our aspirations as workers day is a day of celebration as well as a day to remind ourselves of the critical role that trade unions should play in protecting the rights of the workers, including the freedom to organise and to fight against all forms of exploitation.
As Labour Representatives, we best personify the hopes of the Gambian people in our quest that working men and women of this country are treated with dignity and receive a fair share of the growing economic cake.
However, our role as Labour Representatives is to ensure that economic growth is sufficiently inclusive as the Gambia implements its national development plan. The role of Labour in the socio-economic development of new Gambia cannot be underestimated as in every home that votes in national elections, there is a worker that is feeding the family. Every National Assembly Member was elected by the workers. We are therefore very relevant and the government should regard us as partners in national development.
Labour has been part of the review of the 2007 Labour Act and during this review, Labour Representatives stated categorically that Gambia should be in full compliance with ILO convention 87 which guarantees all workers including public servants the fundamental human right to organise, associate and belong to unions.
The need to ratify ILO Convention 189 covering domestic workers has become imminent. This convention recognises the right of the domestic workers as any other worker and ensures that domestic workers are treated like any other worker under the Labour Laws, it will give them the freedom of association and the right to collective Labour Laws. It will also give them the freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. Ratifying this convention and domesticating it into law guarantees the domestic workers their fundamental human right and decent work.
National social dialogue forum
We believe that there is a need for the government to form a social dialogue forum. At this stage of national reconstruction and the building of sound economic strategies that guarantees peace, progress, security and decent work for new Gambia the need to create an all-inclusive mechanism by way of social dialogue where government, employers, workers and the civil society organisations consult and exchange ideas on issues of common interest relating to economic, security and social policies can have the potential to promote democracy good governance, accountability and participation, a recipe for economic and political stability.
It can also serve as an instrument for managing social and economic dynamic changes while maintaining consensus for peace and stability.
Ratification of convention 190 violence and harassment at the workplace
We anxiously urge the government to seriously consider ratification of convention 190. A landmark convention adopted on the centenary of the ILO concerning the elimination of harassment and violence in the place of work. This convention recognised the right of every one to a world of work free from violence and including gender-based violence and harassment. We encourage the government to take active part in all particularly in the annual international Labour Conferences where convention and recommendations are discussed and adopted. Tripartism is a key element to success and it is hoped that the MOTIE will continue to promote tripartism and to regularly consult all constituents in the decision-making process affecting employment, Labour and working families.
Draft trade union bill
We remind the government of the Gambia through the ministry of trade industry and regional integration and employment to honour its commitment to workers by fast tracking the Trade Union Bill which is the bill that will enable an effective and efficient way to show government commitment in advancing the welfare of workers, we are concern as a union to know that this very important bill has still not been enacted due to administrative delay.
We hope that the government will take the necessary steps and action which are needed to bring this bill to the finish line.
Revised minimum wage
Trade Unions are also concerned about the absence of a Revised Minimum Wage Bill. Some employers are taking this opportunity to cheat on workers by paying very low wages well below the living wage and workers are really suffering. Hence the need to call for a meeting of the combined JIC for setting the minimum wage once and for all.
Once again, we salute all workers and the constituents of the International Labour Organisation. We rest in the confident expectation of achieving a universal world of decent work and guaranteed social protection for the entire working class.
Long live workers solidarity long live, the Republic of The Gambia
Kebba Masaneh Ceesay, chairman Gambia Trade Union Bureau (GAMTUB)