|File: PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar marches with labour leaders in 2010. |
Labour has said politicians are not welcome at Labour Day celebrations today, June 19, 2013
Viewed from both an international and local perspective, there is no doubt that it was through the courageous and tireless efforts of the trade union movement, that workers, enjoy many of the benefits which so often are taken for granted. The 40-hour work week, minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, paid vacation leave, retirement plan are all fruits of the labour movement.
Our own history recalls the triumphs of Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler, Captain Andrew Arthur Cipriani, George Weekes, Albert Maria Gomes, Adrian Cola Rienzi, Elma Francois, Basdeo Panday, and C.L.R James as they fought for fairness, justice and the recognition of the rights of workers throughout Trinidad and Tobago and indeed the wider Caribbean region.
These men and women, and the thousands of workers who marched with them, remain the standard bearers of a movement dedicated to social upliftment, to moving those who labour for the prosperity of a Nation from situations of dispossession and poverty to independence and self-sustainability.
It is you, the labour force of our country, together with our employers, and enabled by Government, that forms that dynamic tripartite constituency, which must remain focused on expanding the opportunities for productivity and fuelling the positive transformation of our young nation.
My Government is committed to creating a resilient economy with long-term opportunities for all our citizens - opportunities which will lead to a higher standard of living and a better quality of life for all.
We understand that we must work collaboratively with our labour force. We also note that at times there will be a differing of views, but as a Government that embraces and encourages consultation and dialogue, I assure you, we will always seek the best interests of all our citizens. As a people and a Nation, our one overarching goal should be the sustained development of Trinidad and Tobago now and for future generations.
My Government subscribes to the concept of decent work and we will continue to do all in our power to maintain the dignity of our Nation’s workforce. We will strive to ensure that our policies and programmes are consistent with the tenets of decent work and pay - thus enabling our workforce to adequately provide for themselves and their families.
We will continue to create avenues for skills training and capacity building, as we journey along the path of knowledge, information and innovation. No-one shall be left behind.
Today I assure you, that your Government stands together with our workforce - our public sector workers, our private sectors, persons working in civil society and the many unsung heroes who work within the home, providing support for their families.
Even as we remember and honour those labour leaders and activists who went before, demanding equality and a voice for workers; let us re-commit to that basic premise of “a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay”.
Let us remember that it is only through collective effort, determination and a solid work ethic that we will achieve the results and rewards we seek as individuals and as a nation.
As we celebrate Labour Day, I am pleased to welcome to Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Mr. Ryder will be in Port-of-Spain to attend the Eighth ILO Meeting of Caribbean Labour Ministers to be held at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference on July 2 and 3.
I wish to all workers, the members of the Labour Movement and to all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago a safe and peaceful Labour Day holiday.
The Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissesar SC, MP
Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.