The Chronicle Gambia

Workers Union Asks Gov’t to Compensate Members

The Gambia Workers Union’s Secretary General says they have proposed to the government last month to give financial supports to workers across the board in the midst of #stayhomepolicy to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Labor Day is celebrated May 1st every year when the workers would demand for the fulfilment of rights relating to working conditions and pay issues.

Unlike previous years, this year’s commemoration, due on Friday, falls in the middle of COVID-19 pandemic which infected millions of the world’s populations with death toll exceeding 100, 000 people.

Consequently, several countries in the world including Gambia have banned public gatherings to contain the virus from spreading by asking huge chunks of workers to stay at home, businesses and schools closed.

     Ebrima Garba Cham

With the majority of the country’s population living from hand-to-mouth basis, the Union has expressed concern for its members.

“This time around we are going to make a statement regarding the ‘Coronavirus pandemic amid lockdown and lay-off,’ and the impact on workers. Most of them have lost their employment and earnings and they are presently in a very difficult situation considering their family responsibilities,” Ebrima Garba Cham, Secretary General of Gambia Workers’ Union tells The Chronicle.

Traditionally, The Gambia has been marking this day with sporting activities that brings workers from the public and private sector as well as other areas to compete with a winner to be given some tokens. But before such activities take place, the Union’s secretary general would address the gathering which include the government’s relevant ministers such as employment, trade, youth etc regarding the situation of workers in the country.

“Unfortunately for this year, we are in this situation. For that matter, we just decided to make a statement to the Minister responsible for employment regarding the situation and the impact and the responses towards those affected, particularly the workers.”

“We have already put in a proposal to the government since March to give them [workers] financial support in order to enable them to stay at home and contain the virus.

“We have done that already and it will be reiterated in our statement again so that people will know particularly the working class that we represent, that we’ve done something on their behalf and also what the government has put in place to support them,” he says.

    Ebrima Garba Cham

He advises the workers to comply with the COVID-19 preventive rules to save themselves and others. “Let them be patient as we are working to support them in their homes.”

With millions of workers affected globally by the pandemic through the stay home and lockdown measures, Cham says they’ve decided to use the theme for 2020 Workers Day as ‘Covid-19 pandemic amid lockdown and lay-off.’

Meanwhile, in a statement from the State House on Thursday, president Adama Barrow has announced that May 1st will be a public holiday throughout the country to commemorate the International Labor Day. He acknowledges the impact the stay home policy has on workers.

“The president is aware of the economic impact of COVID-19 on workers and has launched the government Food Support response to COVID-19 amongst other measures.

“Workers are encouraged to stay home and continue to abide by the preventive health measures to stay safe against the Coronavirus. COVID-19 is real and together we can prevent its spread,” the statement indicated.

The Gambia has registered its 11th Coronavirus cases on Wednesday. Eight out of this number have recovered, one died and two are being treated.

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