GAMBIA: STRIKING TEACHERS WILL BE DISMISSED IF THEY DON’T REPORT TO WORK–VP DARBOE WARNS

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TEACHERS FOR CHANGE (TFC) WITH NETWORK OF MISSION TEACHERS (NoMT) EXECUTIVES MEETS VICE PRESIDENT AND RECEIVES THREATS

Today the 26th September 2018. The task force Teachers for Change and Network of Mission Teachers meets with the Vice president his Excellency Lawyer Ousainou Darboe. The meeting came after a similar meeting yesterday. The aim of the gathering was to bring the recent sit-down strike to a stop.

After everyone prayed in their own ways, the vice president asked a question saying “what change do you actually want”. Mr. Alhassan Ceesay answered the question saying “we want change in the profession of teachers. We want a positive change where teachers will be comfortable at the work places so as to ensure them to deliver effectively and efficiently”.

The assistant secretary General of TFC task force Mr. Ebrima D. York also answered the question saying. “It is a pleasure to answer this question. I know you as someone who have been advocating for change all your life, so I will be very happy to state the change we want. We want a friendly teaching and learning environment. We want to see that teachers are well represented and their welfare upheld”.  He explained challenges of teachers saying “it is because of the challenges faced by teachers that we find it easy to mobilize all teachers” he said.

The vice president expressed dissatisfaction with both task forces for refusing to end the sit-down strike after yesterday’s meeting. “After our meeting I saw what you wrote on social media that your position remains the same. I am disappointed with the step you took” he said. He went further threatening that all those involved in the sit-down strike will be victimized if they refuse to report to school by the 28th September,2018. “We will use the law. We have plans to replace you, we will replace you with retired teachers. We will not allow a parallel union to the GTU” the vice president said. He emphasized that all those involved in the sit-down strike will be terminated from the teaching profession if they fail to be in school by the 28th of September 2018. “We have monitors going around and we will terminate your services if you are not found at your school. The choice is yours so you decide” he said.

Mr. Abdoulie Jallow the secretary general of TFC took up the floor, he greeted the gathering and said “first of all I want to express delight for witnessing such gathering. I want to put this point right. Our means of communication as a group is through social media(WhatsApp) that’s the reason we wrote to our groups to tell members what happened so that’s what basically prompted us to send the report of our meeting on social media also want to express disappointment with the threats we just heard. I think my colleagues here heard it very well. To be sincere with everyone here, I was expecting solutions to our demands and not threats” he said.

The vice president said that the strike is unjustifiable because the agreements in the resolution expires in October. “Can you strike for something that should be done in October, let’s be realistic”. Alhassan Ceesay answered “the first agreement was to expire on 31st may. A day before that we had a meeting with MoBSE where they made it clear that our demands cannot be met.” Ceesay explained a variety of issues that led to the strike.
Johnson Mendy Secretary General of mission teachers also took up the floor and after greeting everyone, he said “his excellency, if I heard you well it’s like you said that we mission teachers should work out our own issues”. The vice president cleared his doubt saying “I did no say that, I did not talk about mission teachers y today”.  Mr. Mendy then continued his deliberations and expressed his dissatisfaction with some of the challenges face by teachers especially mission teachers.

An official unknown to the taskforce (possibly a permanent secretary) also had something to say “I want to add on to what his Excellency said. Government teachers are directly under the public service so we can terminate them but mission teachers are under the catholic mission service so its left to the catholic mission to decide what to do” he explained.

Antony Mendy of the mission teachers spoke at the meeting. “I was thinking that our demands will be met but this threats given to us are discouraging he said.”
The vice president took the floor again to reiterate his position. “These are not threats, we are also telling you what we plan to do. You threatened to go on strike and you did.” ” if you are terminated then you can take us to court” he said. He assured TFC taskforce that the plans laid will be implemented. “In Jammeh’s time you there not do this. We did it as lawyers”.

The meeting was about to be called off by another official saying “his excellency I want to have your permission to call off this meeting.”

The secretary general of TFC taskforce took up the floor and said, “Before calling this meeting off, I want to express our stand. I personally am yet to decide what to decide. We are representing people and we can’t decide anything until we get to them. We will write a cleared report of all what transpired here and everyone will be their own judge”. His statement was responded by the vice president saying “there is still time to decide before the 28th”.

The meeting was geared towards finding ways of ending the recent sit-down strike.
Shortly after meeting the vice president, the taskforce Teachers for Changes called on an emergency meeting. The meeting was to discuss issues relating to the threats received from the officials. The meeting outcome is as follows.

The Taskforce wishes to express our utmost disappointment. We expected more officials from our line ministry (MoBSE) to be present where our issues are to be discussed but only the deputy permanent secretary of MOBSE who was present.. It shows lack of concern from our ministry with regards to our problem and demands. We believe that our demands should be treated well through dialogue and negotiations.

The taskforce uses this medium to inform all teachers that our position remains the same. Our strike continues. We urge all teachers to maintain the unity and cooperation among us. We believe that our issues could have been handled in a better way. This is a crucial moment for our profession and until we stand firm, none of our demands will be met.
Furthermore, the Task force teachers for change calls on all teachers to our second reorientation general meeting to be held at Abuko Village on the 27th September 2018. We call on all teacher to attend the meeting in their large numbers. Thank you.

ABDOULIE JALLOW

SECRETARY GENERAL

TFC TASK FORCE

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