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Gambian VP says economic downturn timely at ILO’s anniversary

Gambian Vice President, Dr. Isator Njie-Saidy, has said that the celebration of the 90th International Labour Organisation (ILO) came at an appropriate time when the global economy is facing enormous financial crisis, with rising unemployment, low labour productivity and income.

Njie-Saidy made the remarks on the occasion of the 90th anniversary celebration of the ILO Wednesday, with the theme “Social Dialogue for Decent Work and Fair G l obalisation.”

She said the government had expressed commitment to an intensive industrial deve lopment effort in order to transform the Gambian economy from low levels of outp u t and income to a diversified economy, driven by a sound industrial base, capabl e of integrating with other sectors of the economy.

This development objective and strategy, she said, was being complemented by nat ional employment policy and action plan, in order to increase employment, increa s e productivity and technological transfer in the country.

Njie-Saidy said the policy objectives of the government were being realized thro ugh a stable and conducive macro-economic environment, efficient and reliable in f rastructural and financial services and skilled labour force.

She said in 1983, technical assistance was provided to review and revise the the n existing labour legislation and the Workmen’s Compensation Act of 1940 which r e sulted in the enactment of the Labour Act in 1990.

Through broad national tripartite consultations, she said an ILO consultant assi sted the Gambia in the drafting of the labour Bill 2005, which was enacted in 20 0 7.

Mrs. Janis James, economic adviser at UNDP, speaking on behalf of UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Chinwe Dike, said the dynamism of the world today continues t o determine the focus of development agenda in the United Nations system.

James said in 1919, the UN established the International Labour Organisation (IL O) as an arm to promote social justice. She quoted the preamble of the ILO constitution which reads: “Whereas universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice; an d whereas conditions of labour exist involving such injustice, hardship and priva t ization to large numbers of people as to produce unrest so great that the peace a nd harmony of the world are imperiled; and improvement of those conditions is ur g ently required.”

According to her, almost a century later (1999), in response to globalization, d irector general of ILO Juan Somania in his first report to the international lab o ur conference, analysed the central role of work and its quality anchored on the challenge of modernising the production structure and creating employment and de c ent work for all. Mrs. James said the report culminated the introduction of a comprehensive concep t of work and the work place which he called Decent Work.

She explained that the report broadly defines decent work in conditions of freed om, equity, security and human dignity.

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