JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Labour and Social Security has explained why Labour Day will be observed on Monday, May 25, and not Saturday, May 23, the date that the law provides for its observance.
  • The Jamaican Parliament framed the law dealing with Labour Day to ensure that it is commemorated on a working day of the week, in honour of the 1938 labour uprising when workers protested the conditions under which they worked.
  • Item 4 of the Schedule of the Holidays (Public General) Act, states that “the 23rd day of May (or in case the 23rd day of May falls on a Saturday, then the following Monday) shall be known as National Labour Day.”

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security has explained why Labour Day will be observed on Monday, May 25, and not Saturday, May 23, the date that the law provides for its observance.

Director of Legal Services at the Ministry, Camille Bennett-Campbell, told JIS News that the Jamaican Parliament framed the law dealing with Labour Day to ensure that it is commemorated on a working day of the week, in honour of the 1938 labour uprising when workers protested the conditions under which they worked.

Item 4 of the Schedule of the Holidays (Public General) Act, states that “the 23rd day of May (or in case the 23rd day of May falls on a Saturday, then the following Monday) shall be known as National Labour Day.”

“Labour Day is really a celebration of the fact that in 1938, there was a labour uprising about low wages, where the trade union movement gained more prominence,” she said, adding that it also gave rise to workers’ rights.

Prior to the 1960 amendment of the Holidays (Public General) Act, on May 23 Jamaicans celebrated what was known as Victoria Day, or Empire Day, in observance of Queen Victoria who was head of the British Empire between June 28, 1837 and January 22, 1901.

“In the 1970s, then Prime Minister, Michael Manley, issued a call for persons to offer voluntary labour in the communities, or areas in need, and that is the Labour Day that we now celebrate. That is why they stick to the working day, unlike other holidays,” Mrs. Bennett-Campbell said.

She explained further that the law provides for Emancipation Day, Independence Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day to be celebrated on a Monday, when they fall on a Sunday.

Meanwhile, she noted that this year Christmas Day will be celebrated on Friday, December 25, while Boxing Day will be observed on Saturday, December 26.

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