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Rethinking the plight of workers

May 2, 2012, 1:04 PM

During celebrations yesterday marking Workers Day, a day set aside to celebrate the social and economic achievements of the international labour movement across the globe, the GNTUC issued a 13-page resolution, which covered several sectors such as transport and agriculture, among others, as well as touching on many areas of concern to workers in The Gambia.

Key among these was the profound concern raised by the GNTUC with regards to  the precarious terms and conditions of employment prevailing in the country ranging from wrongful terminations, no record of workers’ remuneration, contribution gaps to the national social security scheme, to excess hours of work not paid for.

We have over the past years highlighted, in these pages, the plight of workers in this country, most of whom we believe deserve a better deal than what they currently have, so as to meet the rising cost of living in the country, especially now as we speak.

As we have always emphasized, though we cannot say by what percent salaries should be increased, the need for employers to give a lot of thought to the matter of salary increase, since workers’ pay packages no longer match the rising prices of basic commodities.

Workers who live on a fixed income are usually worst off when prices go up, especially so when they have no other source of income.

Since their income falls far short of their expenditure, they tend to live by their wits, or lose interest in their work and, as a result, efficiency suffers.

Workers should be made to be able to pay their rent, feed their families, take care of, if not all, at least half of the needs of the family, so as to maintain effective and efficient performance in their various places of work, as better services will yield better results.

Nowadays, many people find their monthly spending rising on a daily basis. Just go round to find out the prices of necessities of life, you would find that many families are already struggling under the unfortunate pressure of rising food prices and cost of other essential products.

Water, electricity, transport fares, among others, are all the time threatening to tip the household budget into the red.

What most workers take home nowadays is not just enough to make ends meet.

Just imagine a family man that earns two thousand dalasis a month. If he has to spend say seven hundred on rent, three hundred on utilities, then he is left with just about one thousand.

Out of this, he has to take care of feeding and other miscellaneous expenses. At the end of the day, the monthly salary does not last even eight days.

What happens next is for him or her to depend on the goodwill of the grocer to tide over the rest of the month.

This is, no doubt, a miserable way to live.

Interestingly, when things continue like this, ordinary people who are known for honesty are tempted to do unimaginable things just to get by, thus causing corruption in society.

“One swallow does not make a summer, neither does one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.”