Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, has underscored the significant contribution of workers to Jamaica’s economy and the society’s fabric.
“Workers’ Week bears testimony to the power, the strength and the accomplishments of the Jamaican labour force, which constitutes an important catalyst in nation-building,” the Minister said.
He was addressing a Workers’ Week and Labour Day National Church Service, held on Sunday May 20 at the Calvary Baptist Church, in Montego Bay, St. James.
“Today, all categories of workers have the right to union representation and can bargain and make reasonable demands about the terms and conditions of employment. Workers are now able to set goals that will bring prosperity to themselves, and their families, and the nation as a whole. The trade union movement must be commended for its work in promoting and protecting the rights of the workers and for many of the gains which they now enjoy,” the Minister said.
While noting the many movements for social change that workers have led, Mr. Kellier commended employers for their efforts to ensure harmony in the workplace, as unity of purpose is essential for meaningful productivity. He singled out the work of the Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF), for their “significant” role in fostering tripartite dialogue and industrial harmony.
He told the gathering that all Jamaicans must seek to build on the legacy of those who set the pace for the advancement of workers.
“We must commit to re-tooling and re-skilling our workers to compete on an equal basis with others in a borderless world. The Decent Work Agenda, including improved regulations for workplace safety, must be of paramount importance, alongside increased employment opportunities for vulnerable groups, such as persons with disabilities and youth making the school to work transition; comprehensive labour market reform, and a greater thrust for higher levels of productivity,” the Minister said.
Mr. Kellier said the Government remains committed to partnering with workers and their representatives, employers and other social partners to overcome challenges and transform the workplaces.
The Minister is imploring all Jamaicans to turn out in their numbers on Labour Day (May 23), and “undertake social intervention projects that will contribute to community enhancement and national development." The day will be observed under the theme: ‘Step Forward… Make Jamaica Beautiful’.
“We are being called on to ‘spruce-up’ public spaces, including community centres and parks; repair or rebuild senior citizens homes, and give a face-lift to schools. I call on all Jamaicans to participate – parliamentarians, non-governmental organisations, civic groups, churches, community groups, youth clubs and associations and others. Come out and put work into Labour Day and help to create an environment in which we can all take pride and comfort,” the Minister said.
The National Project for Labour Day is the cleaning of National Heroes Park in Kingston.
By Garfield L. Angus, JIS Reporter