“Prices of commodities are sky-rocketing and salaries and allowances are not increased to commensurate with the cost of living in the country,” said Mr Ebrima Garba Cham, secretary general of the Gambia National Trade Union Congress during the commemoration of ‘Workers Day’ held yesterday at the 22nd July Square in Banjul where at least 50 institutions participated. The event was organised by the National Sports Council, for the first time, in collaboration with the Trade Union Congress.
Mr Cham said in view of the rapid hike in the cost of living, it was “very important” for salaries and allowances to be increased or else it would be difficult to achieve the objectives of the national development blueprint, PAGE. PAGE aims to accelerate creation of employment opportunities for Gambians in order to improve their socio-economic condition.
Mr Cham said the salary increment demand is necessitated by the fact that the cost of goods and services in the country continues to increase and workers’ earning power continues to decrease.
“Currently, people are living below hand to mouth. If you buy a bag of rice from your salary even to take a wheelbarrow (to pay a porter) to take it home is a problem; so it is not hand to mouth, it’s below hand to mouth,” he said.
Though Mr Cham did not specify by how much salaries should be increased, he said it should commensurate with the present economic realities so that people are able to buy all their basic needs and be able to save something.
Last year, the trade union called for 120 per cent salary increment. Mr Cham said they made a follow-up with some of the institutions in the private sector where their members work to see that salaries are increased. Some of the institutions, he said, had actually increased their pay scale, though not up to the level requested by the trade union.
However, Mr Cham said the government could not increase salaries. He said this was because they were repaying a lot of debt.
The Minister of Trade, Industry, and Regional Integration and Employment, Abdou Kolley said the government will tackle head on anything that threatens to constrain workers to occupy their rightful positions in the country’s development process.
“It is in this regard that the government continues to allocate resources to human capital formation to enable the availability of a healthy and skilled labour force for industries, as well as enhancement of employability and employment of labour both in the formal and informal sectors of the economy,” he said.
The Trade and Employment Minister said the government through his ministry espouses the creation and access to economic opportunities as an inalienable human right to all those who seek to use their labour for productive and decent work.
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Alieu K Jammeh, said in The Gambia, Workers’ Day accords the opportunity to cement the gains in worker-employer relations; government-private sector relations, and importantly to promote mass participation in sports.
By Lamin Jahateh]]>