Today, May Day, Labour Day, is not only an occasion to celebrate Workers’ Day. Equally important, it is a time to reflect and challenge ourselves. A time to face up to, and find solutions to the trials of the emerging new world of work as a result of the horrible COVID 19 Pandemic.
The relevance of the theme chosen for May Day 2021 – Solidarity and Education to Protect Workers’ Rights & Benefits in the Midst of Covid19, cannot be over emphasized. The selection of such a theme is most appropriate, based on the present industrial climate in our country.
Brothers and sisters, on behalf of the National Democratic Congress and on my own behalf, I salute all the workers of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique – both unionized and non-unionized.
Unions are experiencing a period of unprecedented challenges in our quest to survive. I, however, have absolutely no doubt that the workers’ movement shall provide the necessary leadership that is required to ensure that this challenging era shall pass.
I also use this opportunity to salute the many persons who want to work and are looking for work, but cannot find work. It’s the government’s responsibility to care for not just some people but all the people and so, we urge the government to create the enabling conditions for all Grenadians to find work in order to enjoy a decent standard of living.
As the Acting Political Leader of the NDC, I join with the rank and file of our party in extending solidarity to the teachers, public servants, police, pensioners and all other workers, especially those displaced or in ongoing disputes. I call on the Minister of Labour to immediately address all outstanding matters that are causing industrial unrest. I call on the Government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell to honour its obligation to you the workers and pay the 4% salary increase that should have taken effect since January 1, 2021.
For the sake of peace and stability, I urge the Government to use the millions of dollars in the National Transformation Fund, which comes from the selling of our passports, to settle this industrial impasse.
The government has chosen to battle with the protesting teachers rather than take a peaceful and civil route.
I note, with grave concern, the use of the Royal Grenada Police Force, under the pretense of enforcing the COVID 19 Protocols, to intimidate workers and to quell or silence unions’ protests, and any other form of demonstration that might be contemplated.
The Government recently used the law-enforcement to intimidate the President of the Grenada Union of Teachers Bro. Jude Bartholomew. This action, undoubtedly, has sent the most chilling message to workers. But the workers are not afraid and they will not be daunted.
Prime Minister Mitchell, who is also Minister of National Security, has a responsibility to ensure peace and goodwill in our nation and we demand the use of civil and peaceful methods to solve the teachers’ and public workers’ issue.
The history of government using police to intimidate workers during an industrial dispute has over the years, resulted in confrontation and horrible results. Former trade unionists: Minister Oliver Joseph, Ambassador Claris Charles and Senator Chester Humphery are all aware of these consequences.
The NDC stands on the side of the workers. In 1987 our party was born on the basis of the most profound protest against the retrenchment of workers by an NNP regime. This protest was in the form of mass resignations led by George Ignatius Brizan from a sitting Government. NDC was therefore conceived and delivered from the womb of workers. We grew up in defense of workers and in response to workers’ plight. That’s why today, NDC remains in defense of workers, unionized and non-unionized.
Fellow citizens, it is important that we stand with workers today in order to ensure that our society remains stable and peaceful. Justice must prevail.
Happy May Day to all.
Long Live: The workers of Grenada Carriacou and Petite Martinique
Long Live: TUC
Long Live: May Day
Forward Ever Backward Never