My Fellow Jamaicans, as we celebrate Labour Day under the theme “Take a Stand – Beautify our land”, I ask that we all take a stand for the good stewardship of this beautiful land which God has given to us.
Today, I invite all Jamaicans to join hands to beautify our land.
We must recall the watershed years of the 1930s when Jamaican labourers were grossly underpaid. Several strikes occurred with workers demanding better wages. It was St. William Grant, labour leader and Garveyite, who was among those who took a stand and spoke loudly for the rights of the workers.
Jamaica owes a debt of gratitude to The Right Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante and The Right Excellent Norman Washington Manley, for the roles they played in defending the rights and advancing the welfare of the Jamaican worker.
Sir Alexander Bustamante took a stand!
Norman Manley took a stand!
Our labour movement has a proud history as many labour leaders played a pivotal role in the activities of 1938. They took a stand!
I speak of AGS “Father” Coombs, Sir Florizel Glasspole, W.G. McFarlane and Hugh Buchanan, among others. They took a stand. They did what they could to help their fellow-men and women.
I speak also of Aggie Bernard and other women who were there in the struggle with our men. They purchased and cooked food for workers who were on strike. They took a stand!
Today as we observe Labour Day we owe a debt of gratitude to the countless unsung heroes and heroines on whose shoulders we stand today. It is because of their efforts that we have been able to shape a modern society.
Labour Day highlights the importance of labour in building our nation and transforming our society. Our people are at the heart of our growth and development strategy.
In 1972, former Prime Minister The Most Honourable Michael Manley introduced the dimensions of volunteerism and self-reliance to the observance of National Labour Day by appealing to all Jamaicans to make it a day of voluntary labour toward community and national development.
We are a self-reliant people. This Labour Day let us demonstrate how self-reliance can work to benefit our communities and develop our country.
It was Michael Manley who said when “this country learns the lesson that the only way a nation can become great is when it relies upon itself as a nation; when the community relies upon itself as a community; and when the individual relies upon himself as an individual.”
So this Labour Day, let us demonstrate that spirit of self-reliance, which resides in each and every one of us. Let us go and work on projects in our communities. Let us give our labour of love. Let us build Jamaica.
- Help repair the home of our seniors, who might need our assistance;
- Beautify and improve a school, church or children’s home
- Let us make our communities beautiful!
I commend the thousands of Jamaicans who have volunteered their time and resources in community projects across the length and breadth of our island.
Jamaica’s beauty is our duty.
We have a responsibility to protect our environment.
This land is ours. It is our gift from God.
Treasure it. Cherish it. Protect it.
Let us, on this Labour Day take responsibility and encourage our neighbors to do the same.
I paraphrase the words of the beautiful patriotic song as I remind us of our responsibility to our island as we take a stand, let each man, woman and child say:
This land is mine
God gave this land to me
This brave and ancient land
And when the morning sun
Reveals her hills and plains
Then we see a land
Where children can run free
So take my hand
And work this land with me
And walk this lovely land
On this Labour Day, let us ‘Take a Stand, Beautify our Land’.