By Amadou Jadama
The president of the Gambia Dock Maritime Workers’ Union, Lang Balla Sawo has said that his union will immediately engage the management of the Gambia Ports Authority to send over one hundred overaged dock workers to retirement.
The issue of over-aged dockworkers has raised concern among the public who said their presence affects the efficiency of the operation of the dockyard at the ports. Many have called for their retirement to give way to injection of young blood into the sector very critical to the smooth operation of the port.
Mr Sawo made these comments yesterday at Atlantic Hotel in Banjul after he was re-elected president of the Union at a congress.
Speaking to The Standard shortly after his re-election, Mr Sawo said: “From now on, I will engage the GPA to negotiate a good retirement package for dockworkers who are above 60 years and there are more than a hundred of them. This will help make way for young people to be employed in the sector.”
He said this is necessary because a new company has been registered that will take over the operation for the dockyard and this means they cannot continue to work with over-aged staff.
“In 2007, GPA provided several packages for nearly four hundred dockworkers across the board. So, we would engage them because only the GPA can decide how much they can provide for retirees,” Sawo said.
However, Mr Sawo said one of the reasons dockworkers don’t go on retirement is because they were working on contract basis but according to him, they have now changed from contract staff to permanent dock workers.
The new president also promised that his union will stand for the welfare of dockworkers to ensure that they have health and life insurance as well as put them on social security pension scheme which has never happened before.
Mr Sawo was elected from among four other candidates Saikou Colley, Yero Jawo, Games Gomez and Amadou Bah. He scored 280 votes, Saikou Colley 100, Games Gomez 18, Yero Jawo 9 and Amadou Bah 2 votes.