Today on Labour Day we remember the sacrifices of the workers of Jamaica as they dedicated themselves to the struggles for realization of their hopes, dreams and aspirations.
Today we honour as well our visionaries; leaders who gave of themselves unstintingly to lead a mass of people determined to find fulfilment; the Rt. Excellent Paul Bogle, The Rt. Excellent George William Gordon , the Rt. Excellent Nanny and in the context of today’s activities the Rt. Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante, and the Rt. Excellent Norman Manley,
Today we also pay respect to all those who aided and supported the efforts of our leaders then, and who, during the past seventy years have complemented their efforts and committed themselves with tremendous success to the building of our nation.
Jamaicans will today, under the theme "Step Forward – Make Jamaica Beautiful", dedicate themselves to various community projects with the national project being the beautification of the National Heroes Park where the remains of our heroes are interred.
In engaging in today’s community projects we reinforce the view that work should be seen as something worthwhile and rewarding.
May 23rd, Labour Day in Jamaica, is integrally linked with the events of 1938 when the workers of Jamaica, through protests and rebellions were able to secure and ensure basic rights long denied them.
It is the day on which the modern labour movement was born giving rise to further developments in the social and political arena resulting in political independence in 1962.
This year Jamaicans at home and in the Diaspora will be celebrating fifty years of independence. It will be a period not only of celebration but one of evaluation and review.
A period during which we use our past to measure our present and consider our future
Let us therefore today recommit ourselves to the preservation of some fundamental principles.
· We must continue to encourage the principle of tripartism.
Given our dire economic situation we cannot abandon meaningful and positive dialogue and cooperation among government, employers, and workersas they each seek to protect their collective interests under the canopy of Jamaica’s well-being.
· Let us insist on the principles of decent work. And the observation of core labour standards
· We must focus on the needs of the changing labour market.
· We must through education and training continue to improve the abilities and productivity of private and public sector employees at all levels. These are the requirements of a more knowledge based economy.
Jamaicademands that we continue the level of loyalty and commitment which our leaders demonstrated in 1938. We must do this for ourselves and for posterity.
I wish for all of us a fruitful and productive labour day.
Andrew Holness, MP
Leader of the Opposition