30 January 2013

Gambia: Former GPTC Staff Raise Concerns

Some former members of staff of the disbanded Gambia Public Transport Corporation (GPTC) visited the Foroyaa office to express frustration over their fate and made claims of the non-settlement of certain entitlements and benefits. This development followed the repeal of the GPTC Act 1976 at an extra-ordinary session the 19 November 2012 at the National Assembly by the Minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure,

Mr. Francis Liti Mboge, who told the law makers that the Corporation is being disbanded but that due consideration has been given to the interests of the employees. Minister Mboge said that "Although the Corporation has been dysfunctional for a considerable period, salaries and wages to employees have been paid consistently. It is envisaged that through a collective bargaining mechanism, the employees would be given a reasonable severance package."

According to the workers, it was on the same 19 November 2012 around 2.30 pm when the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Works, Construction and Infrastructure, Mr. Abdoulie Camara, came to the GPTC Head Office at Kanifing to meet with the members of staff. They explained that the Works PS informed them that the government has finally decided to close down the GPTC. They said the personnel from the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) also came there and told them that from that day on former workers would not be allowed to come to the premises.

The workers, who said their length of service with the corporation range from more than 15 years to 30 years, claimed that they have not been given any notice prior to the closure of the institution as required by law and have not been given any letter indicating their status and entitlements or given severance payment package.

According to the workers, they went to the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC) to enquire about their status but were told that nothing is there from GPTC regarding the payment of entitlements. They also claimed discrimination regarding their colleagues who were at the airport for not having been affected by the closure.

They said they have received their salaries up to November but have not got anything in lieu of the notice or other entitlements. The workers expressed the difficulties they are now confronting as head of households who are suppose to feed families, pay house rent, pay school fees and attend to other basic necessities. They said the authorities have to expedite whatever process they are engaged in to facilitate the settlement package in order to salvage them from the dire situation which they have now found themselves in without work and income.

Talking to the PS of Works, Construction and Infrastructure on the complaints raised by the former GPTC workers, he confirmed meeting with the staff and informing them of the closure. He said they have been paid their November salaries. He said the matter is being treated at a level higher than him but assured that something is being done with regards to giving severance package for the former staff of GPTC. He said they are working on something and promised that as soon as they are ready they will inform the concerned workers.

Quizzed on how soon this package will be finalized, PS Camara said he cannot give a definite time but said that they will inform the workers and the media through a press release.

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