#Article (Archive)

NAMs concerned about workers' plight

Jul 5, 2010, 2:07 PM | Article By: Alieu O. Jabang

Gambian lawmakers expressed concern about the plight of Gambian workers, especially those in the private sector, during the adjournment motion debate in the National Assembly meeting in Banjul recently.

The first to express concern was Hon. Fabakary Tombong Jatta, the Majority Leader and member for Serekunda East during the debate in Banjul last Wednesday.

"Madam Speaker, I have a concern and I have mentioned it in one of the debates we had. Over the period, my office has been loaded with complaints from various workers, especially in the private sector. And various Assembly members have come up with complaints of workers," he added.

The Majority Leader said there should be equality of treatment and opportunity in employment.

As people's representatives, he said, "we are not to administer justice; we are not a court of law, but we are an oversight institution, and we should put a break to abuse of power or cheating people in this country."

The MP cited the 2007 Labour Act, whose provisions, according to him, are not being respected. "We have heard of people employed for years without documentation, without a letter and with no terms of reference."

It is stated in the Labour Act that the employee must be given a contract letter, which shall include all the terms of references before the commencement of the employment, Hon. Tombong Jatta added.

This will not only help the employee, but equally the employer, since it will ensure that neither the employer nor the employee is cheated or maltreated, he continued.

According to the Majority Leader, there are a lot of private enterprises that maltreat Gambian workers.He expressed his dismay that the Lawyer for Atlantic Sea Food wrote to question the ability National Assembly looking into the issue.

"And the Tourism Committee in the National Assembly took it upon themselves to seek legal advice from the Attorney General's Chambers. And I have been reliably informed that it is within their purview. We are to look into every matter that affect the public and people of this country and make necessary recommendations.

"What has happened, Honourable Speaker, is that workers have been employed, maltreated, not given documentation, send on leave without pay, banners put on the door no entry, new employees come in, sometimes mostly 90% I am told are foreigners, just to get cheap labour at the expense of the Gambian people. And the institution of the Department of Labour is to collaborate and ensure that Gambian workers and employers are protected," he stated.

He added: "We have seen that we cannot continue to look, watch and see employees being maltreated or employers themselves being cheated.

To this end, I challenged the relevant Committees to make sure that the line ministry of Trade and Employment together with the Labour Commissioners are brought in to be questioned on what are the problems. Accepting Gambian workers, unskilled workers, some semi-skilled some skilled who had been going up and down at various levels to no avail."

The Deputy Speaker, Abdoulie Bojang, Ebrima Jammeh of Foni Bintang, Mama Kandeh of Jimara, Kebba Gaye of Jokadu, Malafi Jammeh of Bakau, Babanding K.K. Daffeh and Sidia Jatta among others all contributed to the debate condemning all sorts of maltreatment on Gambian workers in both the private and public sectors.

Justifying his point further, Honorable Mama Kandeh adduced that he personally took a case to the Labour Department.