Kwasi Adu Amankuwah, secretary general of the International Trade Union
Confederation (ITUC Africa), arrived in The Gambia on Monday, 22 May, for a two
day working visit.
ITUC Africa has affiliates in 50 African countries and supports the Regional Trade Union Organisation called Organisation West African Trade Unions (OTUWA).
Upon arrival in Banjul, he was received and welcomed at the airport by Mr Kebba Masaneh Ceesay, secretary general of the Gambia Labour Congress and some top Gambian trade union leaders.
According to Mr Kwasi, the purpose of his visit was to meet with Gambia trade unionist with a view to revitalizing the labour movement to be able to actively participate in the socio economic development of New Gambia while protecting the rights and freedom of the working class families.
He told the leaders during his meeting his concern that while the trade unions remain fragmented so will they be weak hence under New Gambia the need to resuscitate the initiative of a united labour movement. He said that the informal economy is vital in the economic development of any country and the actors in this sector deserves recognition.
He also drew the attention of the trade union leaders two important event the African Liberation Day and also to the African Risings initiative that is celebrated on the 25th May 2017. He pledged his organisation fullest support in the building of strong unions including the press union in the Gambia.
Trade union leaders expressed delight at the secretary general’s visit and appealed to him to give greater support to Gambian trade union so that they can work more efficiently with government in pro lying the development chapter for New Gambia. They emphasized that Gambia has decided it is the turn of the union “#The trade unions have decided”.
The secretary general was briefed on the initiatives that were under taken in collaboration with the Labour Department and the Gambia Teachers Union respectively to re-organise industrial trade union and a united labour platform.
Leaders solicited technical and material assistance from the ITUC (Africa) to which the Secretary General promised to look into.
During his visit, he met the Commissioner of Labour, the Executive Secretary of the Gambia Press Union, the General Secretary of the Gambia Teachers Union, and the editor of the Foroya newspaper before holding a meeting with trade union leaders and women in the informal sector.
He could not meet the Hon Minister of Trade Regional Integration and Employment because according to her private secretary, the minister was indisposed.
However, satisfied with his meetings with the general secretary of the Gambia Teachers Union Mrs Antoinette Corr Jack and Mr Kebba Ceesay both expressed readiness for a meaningful cooperation in order to benefit from the successes of the GTU and make the unions more relevant and respected in all circles.
Mr Kwasi assured them of his organization’s commitment to help the trade unions in the capacity building programmes and that he would do everything possible to get other organisations to be associated with the Gambian labour movement.
Mr. Kwasi recognised the efforts that were exerted to form a national trade union platform and asked the leaders not to give up.
He left on Wednesday, 24 May, promised to come back with some specialised trade union officials to work out concrete workers education programmes for the benefit of the labour unions.