Pambazuka News

Gambia: Core labour rights violated

2004-02-05, Issue 142

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/rights/19905


A new report by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions on core labour standards in Gambia, produced to coincide with the trade policy review of Gambia at the WTO, criticises Gambia's lack of compliance with the eight ILO conventions known as "Core Labour Standards". The report notes legal restrictions on the right to organise and, furthermore, that civil servants cannot exercise this right. The Labour Act imposes general restrictions on the right to strike, and civil service employees are completely denied the right to strike. More than half the workforce is employed in the informal economy, depriving workers of necessary protections and making existing legislation hard to enforce.

INTERNATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF FREE TRADE UNIONS (ICFTU)

ICFTU OnLine...
020/040204

New ICFTU report submitted to the WTO:

VIOLATIONS OF CORE LABOUR RIGHTS IN GAMBIA


Brussels, 4 February 2004 (ICFTU Online): A new report by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions on core labour standards in Gambia, produced to coincide with the trade policy review of Gambia at the WTO, criticises Gambia's lack of compliance with the eight ILO conventions known as "Core Labour Standards".

The report notes legal restrictions on the right to organise and, furthermore, that civil servants cannot exercise this right. The Labour Act imposes general restrictions on the right to strike, and civil service employees are completely denied the right to strike.

More than half the workforce is employed in the informal economy, depriving workers of necessary protections and making existing legislation hard to enforce. The government must act urgently to extend adequate regulation to this unprotected and usually exploited workforce.

With regard to discrimination, the report notes that there is a lack of employment opportunities for women whose employment is generally restricted to occupations such as selling food or subsistence farming. Women are subject to discrimination in education and employment. The female literacy rate is extremely low at 32.8%.

Child labour is prevalent in Gambia. Some 49,000 children between 10 and 14 years were economically active in 2000, representing 33.83% of this age group. There are not enough secondary schools and enrolment of girls in school is low, particularly in rural areas. Many children in rural areas assist their families in farming activities and there is no protection from exploitation for children on family farms.

Furthermore Gambia is a country of origin and destination for trafficked women and children, including those exposed to sexual exploitation. There are reports of child sexual exploitation in the tourism sector.

The ICFTU calls upon the government of Gambia to apply the core labour conventions it has ratified. Legislation must be brought into line with ILO Conventions No. 87 and No. 98 and the right to organise, collective bargaining and to strike must be extended to civil servants. Restrictions on the right to strike for private sector workers need to be removed. The government must take active measures to improve access of women to education and training opportunities. It is paramount that further progress is made to effectively eliminate child labour and to improve access to education, in particular for girls. The international trade union movement demands that the Gambian government takes urgent and comprehensive measures to stamp out forced commercial sexual exploitation and the trafficking of women and children.

To read the full report, click here: http://www.icftu.org/displaydocument.asp?Index=991218941&Language=EN

* Editorial note: This report evaluating Gambia's adherence to internationally-recognised core labour standards is part of a series produced by the ICFTU since the Ministerial Declaration adopted at the first Ministerial Conference of the WTO (Singapore, December 1996) and re-affirmed on November 4, 2001 in Doha, by which all WTO members stated their commitment to respect core labour standards. It is submitted to the WTO trade policy review board.

The ICFTU represents over 151 million workers in 233 affiliated organisations in 152 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions: http://www.global-unions.org

For more information, please contact the ICFTU Press Department on +32 2 224 0232 or +32 476 621 018.