The foundation of the modern Jamaican Nation is built on struggles of the Jamaican worker.
Indeed, the labour movement which evolved out of the 1938 labour riots, also created the first viable platform on which ambitions for nationhood and later Independence could be launched.
It was the issues affecting labour and the working class, that galvanized the masses and out of which leaders like St. William Grant, Father AGS Coombs, Ken Hill, Florizel Glasspole, Norman Manley and Alexander Bustamante would emerge to eventually lead Jamaica from colonial state to an Independent Nation.
Today, we take time out to salute those, past and present, whom have worked tirelessly to secure the rights of workers and made tremendous sacrifice to lay the foundations upon which we now build.
We commemorate them through the activities of Workers’ Week, and we exemplify their work and sacrifice on Labour Day, by giving of our labour and time to a project or a cause that will advance Jamaica.
I want to thank all corporate citizens, voluntary groups and individuals who are joining together to collectively improve our country.
This Labour Day we will be placing special emphasis on our brothers and sisters who may be living with various mobility disabilities and challenges.
As a nation, we must ensure that no one is excluded because of inadequate facilities to support their mobility.
Our theme this year is “RAMP IT UP … FIX IT UP”.
We will be installing ramps in 126 schools across Jamaica to facilitate access to the ground floor.
We will also be focusing on fixing up and improving access to several Health Centres across Jamaica.
In the same way, we are ensuring that all Jamaicans can have physical access and mobility by building ramps to public buildings, so it is, that your government is building economic ramps to employment which will give you social mobility.
The thrust of the Government’s economic policies continues to advance the welfare of our workers and to improve
Jamaica’s standard of living.
It is the goal of this Government that no one is left behind and that there is equal opportunity for every Jamaican to use their God given labour through meaningful employment to self-actualize.
I have always maintained that a job is independence in your hands.
We are encouraged by the improved employment figures. More Jamaicans are now employed than any other time in our history, giving our people a real chance at their economic independence – a real chance to step up in life.
The unemployment rate has fallen from 13.7 percent in April 2016 to 9.6 percent as at January 2018.
Of note, the youth unemployment rate declined, moving from 31.2 percent in January 2017 to 23.8 percent in
January 2018, representing a decrease of 7.4 percentage points. The Government will continue to work tirelessly to improve these figures, spur economic growth and secure our economic independence.
Our national hero, The Right Excellent Sir William Alexander Bustamante said “Let us resolve to work together under the law to build a Jamaica which will last and of which we and the generations to follow may be proud”.
During this Workers Week and Labour Day period, I urge us all to carry on the noble struggle for economic independence.
To be diligent and creative with our God given labour to create value for our wellbeing and service to our fellow man.
Let us Ramp It Up and Fix It Up, as we make Jamaica the best place to live, work and raise families.