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28 Trade Union members seek redress

Aug 31, 2010, 12:05 PM | Article By: Dawda Faye

Twenty-eight members of the Gambia Transport, Agriculture, Food and Industrial Worker's Union last Thursday sought redress at the Kanifing Magistrates' Court, presided over by Magistrate Babucarr Secka.

The trade union members, who felt that justice was not done to them, sued their employers namely, West Africa Resort Casino and West Africa Cattle Marketing Company, at the Industrial Tribunal at Kanifing.

Ousman Drammeh, the President of the union testified in favour of the 28. He told the tribunal that he lives at Manjai Kunda, and that he is a member of the union. He said that he knows the plaintiffs, who are members of the union and were employed by West Africa Resort Casino and West African Cattle Marketing Company.

The plaintiffs worked for their employer as masons, carpenters, supervisors, painters, labourers and electricians. They were employed from the 1st October, 2004, to 29th September, 2008, he further told the tribunal.

As a member of the union, he had cause to discuss with the plaintiffs their complaints, Mr. Drammeh said, adding that around the 17th May, 2009 towards the 29th of September, 2009 was the period that covered the termination of the plaintiffs' services.

He told the court that he asked the plaintiffs for documentation, as to how they were employed, but no document was shown to him, and that he satisfied himself that there was no written contract of employment.

"As a trade unionist, I am familiared with the Labour Act 2007. The Labour Act states that it is for the employer to give to the employee a written contract of employment, and the conditions of service which was not issued to them," he told the tribunal.

He went on to state that the plaintiffs were working overtime, on public holidays and on Sundays. He added that on a continuous basis, the plaintiffs worked extra three hours daily.

He further posited that the applicable rate for overtime work is normally stipulated in the condition of service. He testified that the rate applicable for public holidays and Sundays are payable as 'Double Days.' He told the tribunal that the normal working hours is eight, starting from 8 am to 4 pm. He said that the plaintiffs are entitled to 30 minutes break, and they were never given breaks.

He further adduced that the plaintiffs are also entitled to annual leave, which was not granted and the plaintiffs were not paid any money in lieu of their respective leave. He continued to testify that the plaintiffs worked normal hours everyday, and also on 'set-setal' days.

"I found out how they were paid and, as a result, I first registered their complaints to the Department (of Labour) to ascertain if their employer has issued them with contracts of employment and the conditions of service," he informed the tribunal.

Mr. Drammeh further testified that the employer was called to the Department of Labour, and that he was present at that meeting. The employer said he was not sure if he has issued the plaintiffs with employment letters, but promised to check in his files, which he never did.

He further told the tribunal that he made his findings into some form of tabulation on the respective complaints and concerns of the plaintiffs, and that he handed it over to his counsel, Pap Cheyassin Secka, who filed summons to the tribunal with the table of claims attached.

Mr. Drammeh said that the total claim is D934, 086.00

Kebba Sanyang, the counsel for the defendant, was not at the tribunal, while lawyer Pap Cheyassin Secka represented the plaintiffs.

The hearing was adjourned to the 2nd September 2010 for continuation.