Labour Minister King salutes Saint Lucian workers and employers

By Ministry of Infrastructure, Ports, Energy and Labour

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Saint Lucians at work

(PRESS RELEASE) – On the occasion of Laour Day 2019, the island’s Minister responsible for Labour Honorable Stephenson King has extended gratitude to the workers and employers of Saint Lucia, for their service to the growth and development of our country over the years.

In his 2019 National Labour Day Address, Minister King said Saint Lucia was built on a strong foundation laid by workers’ organization.

He called on the nation to always remember the selfless struggles of the early Labour Union movement, to guarantee workers their rightful places as partners in economic enterprises.

The minister also gave the assurance that the Department of Labour will work to ensure that worker rights, entitlements and safe-guards, guaranteed under the Labour Act, are fully respected and implemented.

Minister King

The Labour Department will continue to play its critical role through:

* Initiating the mechanism for a tripartite arrangement, to engender a stable and conducive industrial climate.

* Fully developing the Labour Market Information System to facilitate the role of the Department of Labour as a provider of information on the labour market.

Saint Lucians at work

Minister King says government will continue to pursue a collaborative approach by engaging all stakeholders, to ensure that industrial peace and unity is a feature of our industrial relations climate.

BELOW IS THE FULL ADDRESS BY THE MINISTER

Address to the Nation by Hon Stephenson King, Minister for Infrastructure, Ports, Energy and Labour, on the observance of Labour Day, May 1, 2019

Theme: “Uniting Workers for Social and Economic Advancement”

It is a special honour for me; in my capacity as Minister responsible for Labour, to address you on the occasion of Labour Day 2019.

This year, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is celebrating one hundred (100) years of existence and Labour Day is being observed under the theme “Uniting Workers for Social and Economic Advancement”. The theme recognizes the importance of workers’ solidarity in securing and maintaining their social and economic advancement. Implied in this theme is the common saying that Unity Is Strength. Strong and united workers’ organisations can more effectively advocate for and secure social and economic benefits for their members.

It is such unity that led to the establishment and growth of the Trade Union Movement in Saint Lucia in the 1950’s. It was such unity that enabled the Trade Unions to be respected and to be seen as an equal partner in the social and economic development of our country.

It was the Trade Union movement which advocated for and ensured that collective bargaining will always be part of our environment. Such collective action on the part of the workers have led to improvements such as;

– An eight (8) hour working day with a one (1) hour Lunch break;
– Vacation Leave with pay for workers;
– Payment of severance or termination benefits including notice pay and length of service benefits;
– Recognition of Trade Unions and Collective Bargaining;
– Labour Code to bring together all Labour legislation;
– Maternity and Paternity Leave

It can therefore be said that the workers through their collective efforts have provided the impetus for the introduction of laws and improved working conditions for every working person in this country.

But we must not forget that this platform was laid by the early leaders of the Trade Union movement.

Their selfless struggles in promoting the dignity of the worker, must always be celebrated. They were uncompromising in their view that the productivity of Labour created wealth and therefore, this wealth had to be shared with the workers through a fair wage and other benefits.

Today workers have earned their rightful places as partners in economic enterprises; and this was largely due to persistence and perseverance of their Unions.

We must never forget the progress made by the Labour movement in Saint Lucia, and its contribution to the advancement of our workers. Improved conditions in the workplace have been secured and better social and economic standing in the society has been achieved for many of our workers. So let us celebrate the contributions, achievements and advances made by our hard-working men and women to our country’s development.

In the spirit of a workers and employers partnership, let Labour Day 2019, be a time for reflection by both workers and employers. Both parties are important in the nation’s development and must work in harmony and mutual respect. Workers and employers may have different ultimate objectives, but they share common ground in having a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. It is that common ground which is the basis for the advancement of workers’ as well as employers’ interests.

As Minister, I will continue to pursue a collaborative approach by engaging all stakeholders, to ensure that industrial peace and unity is a feature of our industrial relations climate.

The Labour Department will continue to play its critical role through:

– initiating the mechanism for a tripartite arrangement, to engender a stable and conducive industrial climate;

– fully developing the Labour Market Information System to facilitate the role of the Department of Labour as a provider of information on the labour market.

These initiatives will reinforce the legislation governing industrial relations in Saint Lucia, and safeguard and strengthen the gains won by workers through the trade union movement over several decades. They will also enhance the institutional, administrative and social mechanisms which promote a favourable industrial climate.

On behalf of the government of Saint Lucia, I take this opportunity to wish each and every worker and employer a Happy Labour Day 2019.

You have all made significant contributions to the growth and development of our country over the years, and we deeply appreciate your efforts.

As Minister, I give you, the workers and employers of this country, the assurance that we at the Department of Labour, will work to ensure that your rights, entitlements and safe-guards, guaranteed under the Labour Act, are fully respected and implemented.

Again, thank you all for your service and contributions, and may God continue to bless you and your families with love, health, happiness, success and prosperity, as we celebrate Labour Day 2019.

I thank you!

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