Trade union chief speaks ahead of Workers Day celebration


Speaking in a Standard exclusive in Banjul ahead of the Workers Day yesterday, Mr Cham said Gambian youths, especially those in the informal sector which forms the largest workforce in the country, have diverse skills and knowledge that when harnessed, will lead to gainful employment creation needed for the country’s development.

He said the theme of this year’s May Day celebrations is ‘Tackling Employment Challenges Through Social Dialogue’. In this context, he said even though such investments in the social sector such as National Enterprise Development Initiative and the Social Development Fund over the years have been done to spur enterprise development, many youths have not been positively affected by these hence their mass embarkation on “dangerous back-way journeys in search of greener pastures in Europe”. He said the lack of opportunities is inveigling young people to attempt to travel to Europe by the ‘back-way’.

He said: “Every human being has a right to a better living condition. In the event that you are not able to have any gainful employment, most youths look for ways and means to make ends meet. So most of them think that going to Europe is the only solution… Hence there is a need to arrest the situation in which the government and the private sector have leading roles to play. Government has come up with an employment policy and action plan that tries to address the real situation.


“I think financial seed monies for employment creation should be set up. This could be used to set up small, medium enterprises that can help create employment opportunities. Folks can venture into establishing restaurant businesses, for example, that will create employment for some youths. Our youths are very innovative and have skills but lack resources to embark on meaningful enterprises that will generate them income earnings.

“Financial seed money should be created at the Central Bank to take care of employment activities and create industrial, merchant and agricultural banks. Most foreign investors we see in our country today benefited from such facilities from their home countries. They come here, invest and enjoy high returns on their investments. We have skilled workers in the country making materials and implements of better quality than those imported. Dozens of youths who worked with the numerous road construction companies have acquired skills through intensive trainings they received from these companies. These youths have done all the technical works in the road construction works over the years while the companies that employed them just provided machinery and capital to pay for their services. Now that these projects works are finished, they should be supported to start their own enterprises. 

“They have all the required expertise and experience to engage in various road works across the country. The problem is that they do not have the capacity to meet the demands of the population. They should be supported to partner with banks and create favourable financing conditions to support their establishment’s growth,” Mr Cham argued. 


By Sanna Camara