By Nelson Manneh
Ebrima Garba Cham, the Secretary-General of the Gambia National Trade Union Congress has called on the Government to support workers affected by the State of Emergency amidst COVID-19.
Cham said the country is receiving support from outside and the funds should be used to help labourers because the global pandemic, COVID-19 has affected workers.
The Labour Union requested from the Government urgent support either in cash or kind for workers affected by the measures taken by the Government to curb COVID-19 which results in lay-offs and loss of income in the informal sector.
The Gambia National Trade Union Congress submitted this demand to Government through the Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance and the Speaker of the National Assembly.
In many parts of the world, Mr Cham said, seaports and airports are closed while schools, hotels and businesses are all shut down as a way to curb the spread of the virus.
“These unprecedented measures have serious bearings on the social fabric of communities as economics are disrupted resulting in job losses and the potential rise in the spectra of widespread hunger,” he said.
Garba Cham said 1st of May every year is dedicated to workers all over the world for them to reflect, renew and reaffirm their commitment to work for a secure and diligent future.
Cham said COVID-19 prevented them from coming together to celebrate the day adding that all workers must unite to fight for their common good.
SG Cham said it is therefore unsafe and not realistic to organize any social gathering under the prevailing circumstances.
He said they crave the indulgence of all workers for understanding and appreciating the gravity of the situation.
“Despite the uncertainties analysts have predicted that the measures being taken to contain the pandemic could permanently help to change our attitude towards life, the gloomy outlook of the world indicates that there will be steep global recession by the time the dust of the pandemic settles,” he said.
“More than a quarter of the world’s 7-8 billion people are confined to their homes as governments try to curb people’s movement and social contacts in a bid to contain the killer Coronavirus,” he said.
Mr. Cham said in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, some valuable lessons have been learnt both locally and internationally. The Gambia Trade Union Congress submitted recommendations for onward transmission to the Government through its line Ministry of Trade for consideration and possible implementation.
Among the recommendations, Mr Cham said as The Gambia is surrounded by Senegal on three sides, they recommended that the government should provide modern surveillance equipment to control the sea and land borders, particularly, the porous land areas.
“We recommend that the government provides a modern marine surveillance system, patrol boats of 400 nuts to the Navy Unit to effectively patrol our coastal borders and provides the Police and the Immigration Department with adequate patrol equipment to control the influx of migrants into the country,” he said.
He said they also recommend that the government should establish contingency funds as a social stimulus to support institutions as and when the need arises and introduce industrial fishing with a view to industrialize the lucrative sector for job creation, the exportation of fish and generation of foreign exchange earnings.
“The government should generate and coordinate data from all public institutions for easy access and dissemination as and when necessary,” he noted.