Gambia Set to Sign Bilateral Labour Agreement with Four Countries

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By Makutu Manneh

Baboucarr O. Joof, the Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, has disclosed that the Government of The Gambia is in the process of signing bilateral labour agreement with four countries, for the recruitment of Gambians for work overseas. 

Mr Joof made this disclosure on Friday, 12 January 2023, at a press briefing held at his Ministry. 

According to Mr Joof, technical committees have been constituted with various key stakeholders who thoroughly reviewed the agreements with detailed employment contracts and that all the agreements signed, were preceded by consultations with these key stakeholders. Mr Joof continued that the bilateral agreement with the State of Qatar has been reviewed and awaits a response from that country on the draft submitted by the Government of The Gambia for final endorsement. 

For the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Minister disclosed that the agreement has also been reviewed and signed between their two Governments and that the process of implementation is set in motion. He added that the bilateral agreements with the Kingdom of Spain and the UAE are being reviewed but not yet finalized. 

The Minister said the design and development of the Labour Migration Strategy and its Plan of Action for migrants (2021-2030), the pre-departure training manual for migrants, and the policy guidelines on ethical recruitment for Gambian migrants, will help minimise the menace of irregular migration.

Moving on, the Minister indicated that the National Employment Policy and Action Plan 2022-2026 has been approved. 

“Following the approval of this policy, a National Employment Technical Committee (NETC) has been constituted to guide the effective implementation of the policy, and it is expected to be inaugurated before the end of this month,” he said. 

He said the above committee is constituted in three folds, including the main committee, employment committee and the development partners. 

Minister Joof said a national employment forum is slated for early this year, and that this will be a two-day activity where key stakeholders will be invited to discuss the status of employment in the country, adding that the forum will also be used for resource mobilization from development partners. 

“There will be panel discussions during the activity to further discuss the issues of unemployment and opportunities that are available for the youth of this country,” he said. 

“The policy is being popularized nationwide and we have just concluded one tour that was held from 10th to 15th December 2023. The strategies, the action plan and the target to facilitate 150, 000 jobs, were key during the popularization activity.”

He said the Labour Act 2023 was enacted by the National Assembly in June 2023, and that there will be a great deal of improvement in labour administration in the country. 

The Ministry, he said, will ensure that both employers and employees are well protected by the Act which ensures that positions that can be managed by Gambians are given to Gambians. He said the Act also empowers the Commissioner of Labour to strengthen labour inspection throughout the country, with emphases on occupational safety for all players in the field. He concluded by saying that the Act also requires all recruitment agencies to register with the Commissioner of Labour before they can operate legally in the country.