Workers Union Renew Demand for Minimum Wage, Minister Joof Responds

95

By Amadou Manjang

Gambian workers through Ebrima Garba Cham, the Secretary General of The Gambia National Trade Union Congress (GNTU), have renewed their demand for the Gambia Government to introduce minimum wage for workers.

The Gambia, as a country, does not have a minimum wage for workers. Minister Baboucar O. Joof responsible for employment said the Government has reconstituted the Joint Industrial Council and they are looking into the issue of introducing a national minimum wage.

Each year, on May 1, workers meet to discuss their welfare issues and make demands to the Government.

Ebrima Garba Cham, who read the statement on behalf of the workers, came up with a 14-point demand and submitted it  to Baboucarr O. Joof, the Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment.

They want the Gambia Government to establish an economic action to establish and address the issue of the local currency (Dalasi), which he stated is depreciating.  The second demand was about the issue of minimum wage. Mr Cham thanked the Ministry for reconstituting the Joint Industrial Council in order to put in place a minimum wage. Cham said the issue of minimum wage is long overdue. He said the salary structure does not commensurate with the consumer price index.

The workers demand for the review and amendment of the Injuries Compensation Act of 1990 to cater for the present needs and aspirations of the workers. He thanked the Ministry for establishing a taskforce to review and amend the legislation. Cham also demanded that the Ministry should implement the Small Medium Enterprises Police to help the workers.

While he thanked the Ministry for their efforts to get the National Assembly ratify the ILO Convention 190 on the harassment and violence against women at workplaces worldwide, Cham said Conventions such as Covention 102 – on minimum standard social security, Convention 144 – on the consultation, Convention 139 – on migrants, Convention 183 – on domestic workers, Convention 181 – on private agency and others should be ratified to set the standards for social cohesion and ensure decent jobs for all.

The sixth demand was for the Ministry of Works to invest in construction of roads and buildings, equipment, infrastructure and development. The workers recommended for the President to establish a Ministry of Labour and Social Security and move Trade to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs.

“This is because trade is to promote investment and employment is dealing with employment relations. It will also empower the workers and gear them to participate responsibly, effectively and efficiently in steering the nation,” he said.

He stated that this will ensure social cohesion and decent work for all, industrial stability, improve productivity competitiveness and enterprise development. He recommended The Gambia Government to establish an investment bank to promote indigenous business to transform the economy.

“Vegetable vendors lamented the lack of storage facilities in Serrekunda forcing them to sell moldy vegetables to customers due to lack of adequate storage facilities making them to operate on losses. We recommend that the Honourable Minister of Trade in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Mayor of Kanifing Municipality to put in place a storage facility to remedy the situation,” Cham said.

Cham said The Gambia National Trade Union Congress has reviewed the new Labour Act 2023 and discover that certain provisions should be amended. He added that they are working with the stakeholders to forward their recommendations.

“We recommend that the Minister of Agriculture to organise farmers into cooperative,” Cham said.

He said the Government should empower the farmers with the tools they need to emhance growth in their production.

The Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment Baboucarr O. Joof  said the government has intensified its efforts to re-launch discussion on the determination of a National Minimum Wage. He said they have reconstituted the Joint Industrial Council (JIC) comprising of 7 members. He added that the government is currently reviewing a number of its legislative instruments such as the Factory Act, the Injuries Compensation Act, and the Trade Union Bill with the objective of enhancing the welfare of workers and ensuring the effective functioning of the labour market for the benefit of all.

‘I want to reaffirm that the government is committed to the welfare of workers and employers alike. We consider these two the critical agents of development in any economy,’ he said.