Gambia holds colourful May Day but…

Gambians from all walks of life Tuesday joined the rest of the world to mark International Workers’ Day, which took the form of a colourful march-past, amidst criticism by the country’s labour union that its true purpose is being grossly misrepresented.The day culminated in activities at the country’s main stadium where an insignificant crowd had gathered to watch the sporting jousts.

Workers mainly from public institutions and the private sector took part in different sporting competitions after marching past state authorities, hoisting banners bearing the names of their companies in the presence of a small crowd of spectators at a subdued Independence Stadium in the dust-covered town of Bakau.

Despite the air of celebration, The Gambia Labour Congress, claimed it was not the most appropriate way to mark the event and capture the reflective mood of workers across the country whose complaints for improved wages and better condition at the workplace have gone largely unheeded.

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Its Secretary General, Kebba Masaneh Ceesay told the state broadcaster on the eve of the day, that the occasion is more suited as a day to hear the grievances of workers who should be drawing the attention of their employers to their plights as the unsung toilers at the workplace.

”This is what happens everywhere in the world” Mr Ceesay who claimed his office had not been invited to May Day 2018 chortled.

“People remember the Labour Union only when they have problems with their employers, which is not right” he said with an air of resignation to the effect that workers miss its relevance to improving their lot much less give it their full-throated support.

Gambian civil servants and others in the non-formal sector are some of the lowest paid in West Africa if not the continent.

Despite years of half-hearted complaints by workers, successive governments in The Gambia have refused to raise the minimum wage, coming against the backdrop of periodic spikes in commuter fares.

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In a move widely dismissed as cynical tokenism, the government under new President Adama Barrow recently increased transport allowances for its worksforce.

Gambia’s teeming army of workers had entertained hope of improved wages when Barrow took over after a tempestous political crisis last year when his predecessor Yahya Jammeh still smarting from a shock election defeat, blatantly refused to give up power.

From: Journal du Cameroun

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