4 February 2013

Gambia: When the People Speak Governments Have the Obligation to Listen Government Should Be At the Service of the People


The queries against the decision of the executive to change the working days and hours is coming from different angles. First and foremost, trade unionists raised concerns regarding the 10 hour working day which is against the International standard of an 8 hour working day. The business community also complained about the change of working days and hours explaining that their international transactions are already linked to the previous scheme of work.

They vigorously protested against the change. Hence both labour and business were opposed to the Change.

Furthermore, it was the turn of the teachers. The grassroots did not hide their concerns. They indicated that the school syllabus was linked to the previous working days and hours. They lamented that the school year has already advanced and the number of contact hours have already been determined. They bitterly argued that any change would be disadvantageous to teachers, pupils and students at large. Hence educationists are also opposed to the Change. Parents also explained that they are used to arrange the washing of their children's uniform on Saturdays and iron them on Sundays to prepare them for school on Mondays. They also used to spend time with the children on Saturdays which would not be possible if they go to school on Saturdays.

Public servants who are managing the state apparatus have also raised their voices against the Change. Many claim that the change of working hours requiring them to work for 10 hours a day would lead to double expenditure in providing food for themselves at work and their families at home without envisaging any increase in salaries. They said 6 pm would be transformed into a rush hour forcing transport owners to first cover short distances before increasing fares for those living in distant settlements. They lamented that they would reach home when their children would be in bed and leave early in the morning without hoping to have much time with their children.

The change of days and hours of work is not supported by the bulk of the population, even though religious justification is given for the Change. A government that listens to the people will always be able to rectify its mistakes. We have always maintained that no individual is wise enough to be able to lead a nation without relying on the collective intelligence of the citizenry. The people have spoken. Is the government listening? The future will tell.

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