By Nelson Manneh
Gambian unionist, Ebrima Garba Cham, who serves as the Secretary General of the Gambia Workers Union, has asked the Gambia Government to support workers affected by the COVID-19 lockdown.
Cham said in view of the economic situation of the country, the National Trade Union submitted an urgent request to the government to support in cash or kind the workers most affected by the lockdown, lay-offs, or loss of jobs in the informal sector.
Mr Cham made these remarks as the union commemorated workers’ Day. He said 1st May is designated to workers all over the world for sober reflection and commitment to work conduit to a secure and diligent future for the greater good of society.
The occasion is traditionally marked by an ambiance of March past, public speeches, and sports as encouragement to boost unity between and among workers from different fields of work. The unfortunate advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has virtually derailed every human endeavor to the extent that workers are most affected by the lockdown and lay-offs beyond imagination.
“More than quarter of the workers all over the world are confined to their homes while governments try to restrict movements and social contacts in a bid to contain the spread of the virus,” said SG Cham.
He said businesses were shut down in some parts of the world as preventive measures.
“If jobs are lost, economies will dwindle resulting in socio-economic problems,” he said.
Cham in his statement assured workers that the union will not relent in fighting for the rights and dignity of workers.
“We will go to the extent and do whatever it takes to ensure that safety measures are put in place at your workplace and good working conditions are guaranteed,” he said.
He said their investigations around revealed that prevalence of some shameful violations; harassment and psychological torture among other inhuman treatment or common occurrences at some workplaces.
“There are grave moral faults that are totally unacceptable. And they should not be conducted in the work industries of this country,” he said.
Mr. Cham said despite the Gambia is a developing country and needs multi, bi-lateral, and individual foreign companies to invest in the country with a view to boost employment for socioeconomic development, the government is urged to put strict mechanisms in a place to protect the rights and dignity of Gambian workers.
“In view of the flagrant disregard and open violations of the Labour Act 2007 in a number of local work places, the government is urged to create an inspectorate Division within the Labour Department to address and regularize the rampant anomalies that occur in the work industries,” he said.
The workers union also recommended that wider stakeholder’s consultation and nationwide sensitization be considered for the grass-root understanding of national issues.
Cognizant of the lack of transportation for the magistrates posted at the regional courthouses around the country, causing delays in sittings, the workers union boss called on the Judiciary to consider the plight of the magistrates and allocate them transport as a matter of urgency to facilitate their work.
On the upsurge of violent crimes in the country which is becoming unprecedented and a serious security concern due to the influx of illegal migrants in the country without a proper control system, the union recommended for the police, immigration and other security apparatus to be adequately empowered.
“The union is really concern about the sky-rocketing in prices of basic essential commodities and its negative impact on the lives of average Gambian families. We want the government to consider establishing price control system as a matter of urgency for the greater good of society,” he said.