By Alhagie Sora
The Department of Labour under the auspices of the Ministry of Trade,
Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MoTIE), in partnership with UNDP, on Thursday, 26 March 2015, organised a day-long seminar on the roles and functions of the trade unions in The Gambia at the NaNA conference hall in Mile 7, Bakau.With the theme “Towards a new era in Gambia Trade Unionism”, the
training was centred on trade unionism and its roles in the defense of
the rights of the workers. It has attracted the participation of
different trade unions in the country whose representatives gave their
opinions on the lack of capacity in the way the trade union should be
run. The objective was to come up with a comprehensive roadmap to make
trade unions more effective and also more productive.
In his key note address, Mansour Jobe, representing the Registrar
General’s office at the Ministry of Justice, welcomed the move which
he described as timely.
He said every person is entitled under Section 25 (1) of the 1997
Constitution of the Gambia to form and belong to a trade union.
“Everyone has the right to join a trade union, but that right is not
absolute and in The Gambia this right has never been tested,” he said.
Mr Jobe said for an organisation to become a trade union, it is a
requirement that it must have at least 50 workers and that the
application must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office with written
rules, adding that any of the rules should not contravene the
Constitution of The Gambia.
He disclosed that there are 22 registered trade unions in the Gambia.
He said the roles of trade unions include bargaining, serving as
intermediary and protecting members from victimization and injustice.
Carla Nzombe, UN volunteer and labour specialist, who is attached to
the Department of Labour emphasized that the fundamental role of trade
unions is to protect the interest of their workers.
“Trade Unions play a very vital role in the development of The Gambia.
We heard about the problems of regularising Gambian trade unions and
that part of it is because they didn’t really understand what the
expectations are in accordance with the Labour legislation of the
country,” she said.
The UN Volunteer added that apart from representing workers, trade
unions can also serve as motivating tools to make workers productive.
Madam Nzombe said the training would avail them the opportunity to
enquire and know what is expected of unions before they can legally
represent the interest of the workers.
She said a trade union basically needs to work with employers to
negotiate and improve the working conditions of the Gambian workers,
adding that this is imperative in terms of wages, working conditions
and general occupation and safety.
Mr. Nyallow Barrow, the Commissioner of Labour, said the aim of the
training is to pave a new era for Gambian trade unionism,
He said that the Labour Department is working with partners to
strategise and to see how to improve the condition of the workers.
By Alhagie Sora