JIS News

Hundreds of students and teachers from schools in the parishes of St. Elizabeth and Manchester turned out yesterday (October 12), to hear the National Heritage Week Lecture given by President of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU), Senator Dwight Nelson.
His presentation was made at the Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville.
The lecture entitled, ‘The Role of Trade Unions in Nation Building’, formed part of the Heritage Week celebrations, organized by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT).
In his presentation, Senator Nelson told the gathering that, “nation building means economic development, social development, economic growth, employment, and most importantly, nation building means looking after our environment, because if we destroy our environment as a nation, we’re going to face serious consequences”.
“Nation building means the creation of social processes, it means the promotion of higher standards of living . recognition of and reinforcing the dignity of the human being. It means social justice, remembering the rights of the child, elimination of all forms of inequality, reinforcing and developing our cultural rights, and strengthening the family as a basic unit of our society,” he added.
The Senator also stressed that nation building meant reinforcing the right to work, the elimination of discrimination against women, as well as the reduction and elimination of poverty within an economy.
However, he pointed out that before any of these could materialize, there has to be leadership, “somebody has to go in front and act on your behalf to create policies, mechanisms and movements to ensure that this process of nation building takes place”.
He said this was the first contribution of the Trade Unions to nation building. “The trade unions have provided, since 1938, the basis for national leadership in Jamaica. Every national leader of Jamaica has either come out of the Trade Union Movement or have honed their skills as a consequence of the movement,” the Senator said.
He explained that through its process of collective bargaining over the years, trade unionism has raised the standard of living and self esteem of the working class of Jamaica, which was a pre-requisite for nation building.
“No nation can advance if its people are not proud and confident, and through collective bargaining in ensuring justice and fair play in the workplace, through collective bargaining in protecting the rights of the workers, the Trade Union Movement has contributed to stability and the improvement of the self esteem of the workers of Jamaica,” Mr. Nelson said.
“Today, the trade unions continue to contribute to nation building. We continue to sit on every imaginable committee or Board, geared towards developing policies at the workplace and outside the workplace. We in the Trade Union Movement are proud to have contributed to stability in the building of Jamaica,” he further stated.

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