|Trade Minister Kebba Touray|
By Lamin Jahateh
Workers who may be aggrieved on account of bad working conditions, paltry remuneration and other genuine concerns should do an exhaustive negotiation and dialogue before going to court, the Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment has said.
Hon. Kebba Touray said any worker who feels hurt, aggrieved by deplorable working conditions and exploitative remuneration or any employment related issued should realize that social dialogue is a primary option for redress rather than taking industrial action, going to court. Social dialogue is a tripartite discussion of government representative, the employer and the aggrieved employee.
“Industrial action should be last resort,” the Trade Minister said in a statement read on his behalf by Mass Axi Gaye, Minister of Fisheries and Water Resources, on Wednesday during the Workers’ Day commemoration held at the July 22nd Square in Banjul.
May 1st is commemorated worldwide as Workers’ Day also known as May Day.
The Trade Minister’s comment came at a time when the industrial tribunals in the country are inundated with cases of unfair dismissal and other employment related matters. Almost on daily basis, newspapers in the country publish court cases on employment matters going on at the court.
However, the Trade Minister said social dialogue, involving the relevant parties - the government, employers and workers - substantially aids amicable resolutions of industrial disputes if it is underpinned by good faith, work ethics, and professionalism.
On the contrary, he said industrial action, going to court, tends to complicate and aggravate matters, resulting in high costs, particularly in terms of output and income losses.
For him, social dialogue dramatically reduces the incidence of industrial action at workplaces because it creates a forum where workplace disputes are amicable resolved internally and swiftly.
In addition to being an amicable resolution mechanism, social dialogue fosters mutually beneficial cooperation among the parties. It also enhances familiarity with and enforceability of the existing labour laws and industrial productivity, stability and growth. Besides, it helps create employment opportunities that reduce poverty.
“Conclusions and outcomes of social dialogue should always be upheld and enforced to avoid disruption to industrial activities,” Hon. Touray said.
Mutually agreed remunerations, good working conditions, and other provisions should be ordinarily assured, so that workers are both morally and legally obliged to justify their emolument and conditions of services by performing tasks assigned to them.
Non-reciprocity in terms of dodging responsibility and poor performance by workers simply deprives them of any moral and legal claim to remuneration and some other entitlement.
In a situation where workers fulfill their obligation to a covenant but the employer does not, social dialogue should be exhaustively tried before resorting to industrial action.
This is the kind of work ethics and professionalism which workers should adopt and clearly demonstrate at workplaces.
Employers should also be able and willing to fulfill their obligations to the covenant struck by social dialogues, fully realizing that workers are an exceedingly important complementary factor of production.
The Trade and Employment Minister pointed out that employers will have no moral or legal claim to profit if they too contravene labour covenants.
He noted that social dialogue and tripartism should be the hallmarks of the industrial relations.
For Mr Ebrima Garba Cham, secretary general of The Gambia National Trade Union Congress, the GNTUC will respond to emerging disputes within the work industry in the best interest of industrial justice.
This will be done with a view to ensure that grievances arising from such disputes are addressed amicably through dialogue rather than confrontation.