By: Kebba AF Touray
Deputies at the National Assembly on Monday 13th March 2023, adopted the report of the Trade and Regional Integration Committee on the new Labour Bill 2022, with the objective of ensuring occupational health and safety at workplaces.
The bill was introduced before Members of the National Assembly on December 13th 2022, during the Ordinary session of the 2023 Legislative year. On the second reading, Members debated on the general principles and merits of the bill and referred it to the said Committee. The mandates of the committee as per scrutinizing the bill include identifying witnesses, holding proceedings and gathering evidence on the Clauses of the Bill, present amendments in the order in which they stand in the bill and present a report comprising a summary of evidence generated from witnesses among others. Tabling the report before the plenary, the Member for Kombo East, Hon. Abdou Sowe, told his colleagues that the objective of the bill is to provide not only monetary benefits, but to also ensure occupational health and safety at all workplaces.
“The review is necessitated due to the numerous loopholes and unclear provisions that have been identified in the 2007 Labour Act. During the consultation, it was highlighted that the current Act is silent on important issues such as the expatriate quota, domestic servants’ unionism and workplace requirement,” he said.
Most importantly he said, the Labour Act 2007 was reviewed to promote decent work, social dialogue and employment, and is also being reviewed to be in conformity with other existing laws of the Gambia and to take into consideration recommendations from international partners, employers and Trade Union Organizations.
“The factors which necessitated the proposed enactment of this bill have been fully explored and dealt with accordingly. The duties and functions of the Commissioner of Labour has been covered in part one of the bill, and part three covers the licensing and operations of private employment agencies,” he said.
Part four he said talks about the establishment, composition and functions of the Labour Advisory Board, and that the establishment, functions and composition of the Expatriate Quota Allocation Board and the Industrial Tribunal are covered in parts five and six respectively. That part seven covers the rights and duties of both employers and employees, and that conditions regarding the employment of children, women and persons with disabilities are covered in parts eight and nine, while part thirteen covers maintenance and development of human resources and contracts of employment and their types respectively.
“Occupational health, safety and welfare is covered under part fifteen and part sixteen covers the protection of wages. Parts seventeen, eighteen and nineteen cover the issues of discipline, dismissal and redundancy, freedom to associate, the right to collective bargaining and industrial relations and miscellaneous issues respectively,” the Member said. He told colleagues that witnesses emphasized the necessity for the various boards and the industrial tribunal to manifest competence and professionalism in all their undertakings, in handling labour issues.
Some of the Clauses that the committee proposed should stand as part of the bill includes but is not limited to the following: Clauses 2 and 3 in part one of the bill; Clauses 27 and 31 (d) in part five on the expatriate quota allocation board; Clauses 8 and 17 in part two on the administration of labour matters, and Clauses 32, 33 (d) and 36 (2) (d) in part four, on the labour advisory board.