May 22, 2013, 10:30 AM
The Secretary-General of the Gambia National Trade Union Congress, Ebrima Garba Cham, has presented the May Day Resolutions for the year 2010 to the Minister of Employment.
The resolutions are part of a 14-page document Mr. Cham read on Saturday at the Independence Stadium where workers assembled to celebrate Workers Day.
The resolutions covered several sectors such as transport and agriculture, among others, as well as touching on many areas of concern to workers in the Gambia. These include the need to implement international labour standards; ensuring rural employment, supporting micro, small and medium enterprises in the country; addressing the problems caused by the migration of skilled workers; and the fact that workers in the country are faced with precarious terms and conditions of employment, and the need to remedy the situation in accordance with the country's labour laws.
In his speech, the GNTUC leader said The Gambia has enjoyed a stable economic environment with an annual growth rate of 6 percent, but "unemployment remains a key concern to the government and the labour movement."
"As a country, the Gambia has been trying to focus attention on employment creation, and to bring innovations in addressing issues of unemployment and underemployment," he added.
Mr. Cham went on to point out that the issue of acute unemployment has great consequences in the country's drive towards reducing poverty.
He also made several recommendations to the government relating to several issues of concern to workers in The Gambia.
For instance, among others, he recommended that the Ministry of Trade and Employment invest in public employment services and labour market information systems; that employment and notification of vacancies should be passed through the labour exchange, as stated in the Labour Act 2007.
Hon. Jatto Sillah, the Minister of Forestry and Environment, represented the Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment at the May Day rally, who delivered a speech, said that "the unfolding economic crisis has refocused attention on the spreading impact of globalisation not just on financial institutions big or small, or nations rich or poor, but also on labour markets and the plight of employees and their families."
Minister Sillah said that the current crisis has led to unemployment problems and social instability, entailing the risk of deflationary spiral undermining salaries, livelihood and social protection, as well as massive wastage of human resources and productive skills.
According to him, research findings revealed that immediate job losses may soon pass 50 million, with an annual inflow of 49 million new entrants into global labour market.
"Equally, business bankruptcies are growing exponentially, particularly among smaller enterprises. At regional level, the global financial crisis has affected African countries and people causing social and economic impacts.
"Growth, macroeconomic stability, employment, and sustainable livelihoods are jeopardised as well as economic and social progress achieved during recent years," he stated.
He said that May Day celebration is not another festivity, but a forum to make sober national reflections of the achievements and failures of the previous years, and make projection for the future within the tentacles of the strengths and weaknesses.
He told workers that conducive working environment goes beyond the walls of adequate pay and ideal working conditions, as he stated, they need unity of purpose, between workers and employers.
He finally assured them of government's support to respect the rights of workers.