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Labour Day in Jamaica


Theme for Labour Day:  “Plant a Tree… For Life”

Slogan:   “Promoting Climate Change Mitigation, Food Security & Road Safety”

National Project: Planting Trees on Highway 2000



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Labour Day 2023 Jingle

Workers’ Week and Labour Day 2022
National Parish Projects

No.Municipal CorporationMayorsParish Projects Scope of Work

Kingston &

St. Andrew

Municipal Corporation

His Worship The Mayor Councillor Delroy Williams

Renovation of Mandella Park

National Project/Parish Project.

The scope of work will include painting of general areas, renovation of bathrooms, building of ramps, planting of shade trees and plants and shrubs electrical upgrading work, disinfecting and sanitizing of  park area, water tank installation.

St. Catherine

Municipal Corporation

His Worship The Mayor Councillor Norman ScottCleaning up of Natural Bridge in RiversdaleGeneral cleaning and garbage removal


Municipal Corporation

His Worship The Mayor Councillor Winston MaraghGeneral clean-up of the Kellits Town Center in Northern ClarendonThe scope of works will include but not limited to the brushing of verges and the cleaning of drains leading into the town of Kellits as well as the painting of curb walls and the wall at the green area.


Municipal Corporation

His Worship The Mayor Councillor Donovan Anthony Mitchell


St. Elizabeth

Municipal Corporation

His Worship The Mayor Councillor Derrick Sangster

Junction areaThe scope of work will be the construction of  sanitary conveniences.


Municipal Corporation

His Worship The Mayor Councillor Bertel MooreLucea InfirmaryThe scope of work will include painting and building renovations to an old ward.


Municipal Corporation

His Worship The Mayor Councillor Sheridan SamuelsRenovation work at the Lucea InfirmaryThe scope of work will include general painting and building renovations of an old ward.

St. James

Municipal Corporation

His Worship The Mayor Councillor Leeroy WilliamsCharles Gordon Market District

The scope of work will include the covering of roadways, rehabilitation of sanitary conveniences, painting, power washing and all other repair works connected to cleaning of the market and its immediate surroundings.



Municipal Corporation

His Worship The Mayor Councillor Collen GagerThe Municipal Building, Water Square & Pedestrianized areas of Falmouth

The scope of work will include beautification upgrades, painting, washing down and sanitizing and white washing of areas.

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St. Ann

Municipal Corporation

His Worship The Mayor Councillor Sydney StewartGrants Bailey Basic school in the  Gibralta divisionThe scope of work includes painting, updating fixtures and  roofing renovations.

St. Mary

Municipal Corporation

His Worship The Mayor Councillor Richard CrearySt. Mary InfirmaryThe scope of work will include debushing,  clearing and cleaning.


Municipal Corporation

His Worship The Mayor Councillor Paul ThompsonBuff Bay High School

The scope of work will include painting and beautification of the school.


St. Thomas

Municipal Corporation

His Worship The Mayor Councillor Michael Hue St. Thomas Infirmary

The Scope of work will include painting, replacing of mesh screens on windows, and beautification upgrades.

Councillors will be doing other beautification upgrades in various divisions in St. Thomas.

14.Municipality of PortmoreHis Worship The Mayor Councillor Leon ThomasPortmore Town Centre and DaytonaThe scope of work will include the Constructing of a disable friendly sidewalk and a footpath in Daytona.

Labour Day is the observation of national volunteerism and collective acts of service, offering a vivid reflection of the industrious and caring nature of the Jamaican people. The national holiday, officially recognised since 1960, is celebrated on May 23 annually in commemoration of the 1938 labour rebellion, where a series of workplace disturbances aimed at highlighting the inequities of wealth, broke out across the British West Indies. This significantly contributed to Jamaica’s independence.

National Labour Day marks the end of Workers’ Week. The overarching theme for Workers’ Week and Labour Day 2023 is: “Plant a Tree… For Life”, with the mission to “Promoting Climate Change Mitigation, Food Security & Road Safety”. In accordance with the provisions of The Holidays (Public General) Act of Jamaica (1985), “National Labour Day shall be celebrated on the following Monday if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday.”

For the average Jamaican, engagement in Labour Day activities has been culturally engraved as a core civic and social responsibility. It usually involves Jamaicans from all walks of life labouring to benefit the most vulnerable in the society, as well as improving public facilities. National Labour Day also plays a major role in preserving Jamaica’s cultural architecture for future generations.

The Genesis of Labour Day in Jamaica

A typical Labour Day in Jamaica sees citizens sprucing up a national monument, their community centre, a school or a church in the area; refreshing a pedestrian crossing; or even landscaping their own yards. The observance of the day, however, began under vastly different circumstances.

The year 1938 brought with it significant unrest. Protests, strikes, riots and industrial action were the order of the day islandwide. Workers wanted better working and living conditions but for that to happen, they needed better wages. Eventually, things came to a head at the Kingston Waterfront when the United Fruit Company workers walked off the job. They needed a spokesperson and called on St. William Grant who enlisted Sir Alexander Bustamante’s help. Both were advocates of workers’ rights and hammered away at bringing their plight to national attention. Their hard work also brought personal hardship as they were branded as agitators and subsequently arrested on May 24, 1938.

Their efforts were not in vain, as out of those tumultuous events, the Trade Union Movement was strengthened and groups such as the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union were established.

In 1961, Premier Norman Washington Manley replaced Empire Day (May 24), which was the celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday, with Labour Day (May 23). This was done because the island became an independent nation and it was more relevant to mark the events leading to the genesis of the country’s labour movement.

A shift in focus for Labour Day came several years later in 1972 when then Prime Minister, The Most Honourable Michael Manley changed the tone of the day by placing emphasis on community development through volunteerism.

Today, we still commemorate the struggle of the working class, which resulted in the historical labour rebellion of ‘38’, but now use it as a springboard for national pride.

United Workers - The History of Trade Unions in Jamaica

The early stirrings of the Trade Union Movement in Jamaica began with the Carpenters, Bricklayers and Painters Union or Artisans Union, the Jamaica Union of Teachers and later the Printers’ Union in the late 1890s. Since trade unions were illegal at that time, any attempt by workers to unite in protest against any perceived injustice or to preserve their rights were viewed as an act of criminal conspiracy against the colonial authority. It was only on October 25, 1910 that the Trade Union Law legally recognised the regulations and formation of trade unions in Jamaica. This led to the rise of several trade unions, one of which was the Jamaica Workers and Tradesmen Union (JWTU), formed in 1936.

The 1938 Labour Riots led to the creation of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) in 1940. In that same year, the Jamaica Association of Local Government Officers (JALGO) was also formed, which represented workers in local and national government. The National Worker’s Union was formed in 1952. Other professional groups formed unions such as the Nurses’ Association of Jamaica in 1946, the Jamaica Teacher’s Association in 1963 and the Junior Doctors’ Association in 1975. Today, the trade union movement continues to impact the Jamaican workers’ experience as they fight for their rights and campaign for policies that will benefit the working people.

Labour Day Themes

Labour Day themes were introduced in 1989. They are geared towards promoting national involvement in the observance of the holiday. The purpose of the themes is to assist groups and individuals to coordinate Labour Day activities. The themes cover a wide range of issues, such as health and the environment, youth and the community, respect for the elderly, road safety and tree planting.

Below are the various themes for Labour Day from 1989 to 2021.

1989 Education

1990 Health and the Environment

1991 Let’s Put Work into Labour Day

1992 Clean Up and Plant a Tree

1993 Youth and the Community

1994 Respect Due to the Young and Old

1995 Safe Road, Safe Journey

1996 Basic Schools – Building Better Values

1997 Come Alive Labour Day 25

1998 Put a Clean Face on Your Community

1999 Plant a Tree Today … Sustain Life Tomorrow

2000 One Love … One Clean Community

2001 Play Your Part, Give Your Children the Right Start

2002 Let’s Make Jamaica Nice and Clean and Keep it Clean

2003 Play Your Part, Give Your Child the Right Start … A First-rate Early Childhood Facility for Every Community

2004 Road Safety First … Avoid the Worst

2005 Prepare for Disaster Recover Faster

2006 Jamaica’s Beauty Our Duty

2007 Honouring Our Ancestors, Strengthening Our Community

2008 Eat What We Grow, Grow What We Eat

2009 Ketch the Vibes: Volunteerism, Intervention, Beautification and Empowerment for Success

2010 Our Children … Show Them We Care  

2011 It Takes a Village to Raise a Child 

2012 Jamaica 50: A Nation on a Mission 

2013 Lend a Hand … Build Our Land 

2014 Take a Stand … Beautify Our Land

2015 Labour of Love, Nurturing Our Children 

2016 For Health’s Sake … Keep it Clean

2017 Restore, Preserve, Beautify

2018 Ramp it Up – Fix it Up

2019 Yes to Decent Work, No to Child Labour

2020 Labour at Home, Clean Up, Fix Up, Plant Up

2021 Safeguarding our Labour Force Amid COVID-19

Labour Laws Breakdown

Labour laws are developed to establish the conditions that are acceptable for employment and the parameters in which employers and employees should operate. While each organisation may have specific rules that are relevant and unique to their area of work, the main national labour guidelines are summarised below:

The Employment (Termination and Redundancy Payments) Act

This Act has repealed the Masters and Servants Act of 1842. It outlines the required notice period to be given before the termination of a contract, both for the employer and the employee, the right to redundancy payments and the conditions that apply.

Notice Periods

If an employee is continuously employed for more than four weeks, the notice period to be given by an employer is as follows:

  • No less than two weeks’ notice if the worker is employed for less than five years.
  • Four weeks’ notice if the staff member is employed for five or more years but less than 10 years.
  • For an employee of 10 or more years, but less than 15 years, bosses are required to give six weeks’ notice.
  • If a worker has been employed for 15 or more years, but less than 20 years, he or she should be given eight weeks’ notice.
  • Once an employee has been working for more than 20 years, 12 weeks’ notice is expected.

Note Well: As it relates to a fixed-term contract, an employer is not obligated to give notice of termination if that contract would have ended. However, if an employee under this contract continues to work up to four weeks after the contract expires, then the notice periods will be applicable.

An employee who has been continuously employed for four weeks is expected to provide at least two weeks’ notice.


Redundancy Payments

Under the Act, a statutory redundancy payment is due where an employee is made redundant with at least two years of continuous service. Seasonal workers may also be entitled to a redundancy payment in circumstances where the seasonal employee has been employed for two or more consecutive seasons on a continuous basis.

See Full Document: The Employment (Termination and Redundancy Payments) Act

The Occupational Health and Safety Act

This legislation provides the framework for a habitable work environment, and through the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, investigates incidents where health and safety has been compromised.

For the purpose of this Law, a ‘workplace’ is a place where:

  • Work is conducted for business
  • A worker needs to be, is likely to be, or to go, by reason of his work and which is under the direct or indirect control of the person conducting business or undertaking.

The workplace is also not limited to four walls, as it can be a vehicle, vessel, aircraft, mobile structure or waters and land.

See Full Document: The Occupational Health and Safety Act

The Minimum Wage Act (Amendment) Order 2022

The purpose of this legislation is to protect workers against unfair wages. This is done through a fixed minimum wage. Effective April 1, 2022 the national minimum wage increased from $7,000 to $9,000 per 40-hour work week or $175.00 to $225.00 per hour.

The Minimum Wage Act (Industrial Security Guards) (Amendment) Order 2022 Resolution

This Act offers the same protection as above, but specifically for industrial security guards. The minimum wage moved from $9,700 to $10,500 per 40-hour work week or from $242.50 to $262.50 per hour.

For Full Document, Contact the Houses of Parliament

Holidays With Pay Act

Under this law, employees are entitled to holidays and sick leave with pay and for casual workers in certain occupations, gratuities, and sick benefits. Casual workers, as stated in the Act, are those employed for a day or for the completion of a particular task.

Holidays and sick leave with pay, among other benefits, are dependent on the employee’s years of service and earnings.

See Full Document: Holidays With pay Act  

The Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act

Responsible for the establishment of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT), this piece of legislation outlines the power and purpose of the tribunal in settling disputes within the workforce. All actions of the tribunal should be in line with those laid out in the other employment legislations. The objectives of the IDT are:

  • To facilitate the settlement of industrial disputes and to hand down awards in accordance with the law
  • To achieve peaceful dispute resolution
  • To assist in the maintenance of industrial harmony and stability in the country

See Full Document: Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act

The Staff Orders

This is a comprehensive government handbook outlining the conditions of service for public sector workers. It provides a comprehensive instruction on appointments, employee records, hours of work, code of conduct, training and development, compensation, leave, employer and employee relations, disciplinary measures, among other information relevant to an efficient and healthy working environment.

See Full Document: Staff Orders

The Representation of the People (Leave and Symbols) Regulations

This order allows employees to be given time off from work to vote in government elections. They are allowed three hours, in addition to the normal meal hour, for voting purposes. These provisions, however, do not apply to workers who commence work on Election Day at or after 10:00 am or conclude work before 2:00 pm.

See Reference in the Representation of the People Act

The Sexual Harassment Protection and Prevention Act

The aim of this Act is to protect all its citizens including those in the workplace and provide an opportunity for redress where violations occur.

Workplace Protection

  • Prospective employers must not suggest to applicants that their ability to get the job is dependent on them engaging in or tolerating any form of sexual conduct.
  • Employers must make every reasonable effort to ensure the safety of their employees by forming a policy statement and compiling a register in which events of reported sexual harassment are recorded.
  • Employees must not be forced to accept working conditions that depend on accepting or tolerating sexual advances from their employers or supervisors.
  • Employees who have experienced any incidents of sexual harassment must be able to report them without being discriminated against by their employers.
  • Clients must not be sexually harassed by employers or employees while conducting business.

See Full Document: Sexual Harassment Protection and Prevention Act

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