||Last Updated: Jun 7, 2019 - 11:48:54 AM
Senator The Honorable Dion A. Foulkes
Minister of Labour
National Labour Day Address
Thursday, 6th June, 2019
‘One For All, All For One: Securing the Protection
of Bahamian Workers for future Generations.’
My Fellow Bahamians, on Friday June 1, 2018, while we celebrated another ‘Labour Day’, we witnessed before our eyes, tragedy of unimaginable proportions where four of our sisters
a) Tabitha Charlene Haye
b) Tami Patrice Gibson
c) Dianne Elizabeth Ferguson
d) Kathleen Augusta Fernander
Lost their lives and (24) twenty four other individuals who paraded with us, were seriously injured. At this time, as we dedicate this whole week of celebrations in their memories, we pause to think, reflect and silently pray for the souls and memories of our dearly departed sisters. A moment of silence is kept. Thank you.
On this ‘Labour Day’ celebrations or in this case, Sir Randol Fawkes' ‘Labour Day’ celebrations’, we pause to appreciate the significance of our Patron. We must constantly remind our people especially our children of the sacrifices that bold and innovative leaders like our Patron Sir Randol Fawkes sparked, when on 1st June 1942, he led the Burma Road march, which created the birth of the ‘Modern Trade Union Movement’ in The Bahamas and thus, we in the Labour Movement have forever aligned the first Friday in June, Labour Day in The Bahamas with the struggle of the improvement of the Labour industry, while agitating for the rights and equality of Bahamian Workers and all who work in our beloved country.
As Minister of Labour, I am so pleased on behalf of the Government and people of the Bahamas to join in with the Labour week celebrations, that have been organized by the ‘National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas (NCTUB) and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas Trade Union Congress under the theme “One For All, All For One: Securing the protection of Bahamian Workers for future Generations.”
This past week, both sets of Umbrella Trade Union Organizations have joined forces together to pay tribute to four of our fallen sisters that died in the ‘Labour Day’ tragedy 2018, while making their personal contribution to the Labour movement, as well as the growth and development of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. I therefore extended heartfelt congratulations to President Obie Ferguson of the ‘Bahamas Trade Union Congress’ and President Bernard Evans and the Executives of the National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas on the occasion of joint ‘Labour Day’ activities as we celebrate another Sir Randol Fawkes ‘Labour Day’.
Fellow Trade Unionist, ladies and gentleman, over the last twelve months, the staff of my Ministry have worked aggressively to address the various challenges that confront workers and their Trade Unions as well as the needs of those workers that are not associated with organized Trade Unions. We have made significant progress in reducing the high level of unemployment to improving services of the Ministry and the Department of Labour, to ensure that the desires of both workers and employers are responded to in a timely and professional manner. It is our desire to see that the public is served efficiently and effectively and that time and ease of doing business with my Ministry is reduced.
I can report to the Nation tonight, that while we may have had a very active and public industrial relations environment, during the past twelve months the country is stable and partnership with the Unions remain active and strong. It is in my view that this strong partnership will continue to have a direct impact on the high percentage of settlements of disputes in the workplace which are amicably resolved while contributing to the resurgence of our economy. It is my Government’s intention to continue to address some of the critical issues facing the private sector. We are open to suggestions and recommendations in addressing these urgent issues in a provocative and innovative way. As the private sector is a significant contributor to the engine of our economy, my Government stands in partnership with the business community in providing the requisite tools and programs which will enable the respective businesses to grow and flourish.
My fellow Bahamians, the Ministry of Labour has over the past year further developed and expanded a number of programs and initiatives, outlined in the Labour component set out in my Government’s Manifesto. The expansion of the Labour on the Blocks initiatives which have resulted in tens of thousands of registered job seekers in the ‘Department of Labours’ database and job opportunities for hundreds of job seekers. The progressive work and recommendations of the National Productivity Legislation which is strongly recommending that the Tribunal Court be transferred to the Civil arm of the Supreme Court which allows them ‘The Tribunal Court’ to enforce their own rulings. Upgrade of the P.C. Recruiter System in the Department of Labour which is operated in conjunction with the Citizen Security & Justice Program. The expansion of the Inter-American Development Bank Sponsored Program for skills for current and future job seekers and the New Understudy Program. The expansion of the ‘Labour on the Blocks’ and merging the initiative with the Office of the Prime Minister ‘Over the Hill Project.’
My fellow Bahamians, as we in the Ministry of Labour look towards 2020 and beyond, I wish to assure all Stakeholders of my Government’s commitment to maintaining the cordial working relationship with our Social Partners and pledge that we, over the next (12) twelve months, will continue to focus on further implementation of our goals, which are to:
- Ensure that all ‘Heads of Agreement’ recognize workers’ rights.
- Facilitate dialogue to promote and implement workers’ education programs.
- Further amendments to Section (20) of the Industrial Relations Act to facilitate the ‘International Labour Organization’ recommendation on Trade Union Independence.
As we prepare to commemorate another ‘Labour Day’ on Friday 7th June, 2019, I wish to extend congratulations to both the NCTUB and CBTUC for joining forces and holding one ‘Labour Day’ Parade and Rally which leaves historic Windsor Park at 8:00 a.m. and ends at Arawak Cay. I also wish to invite and encourage all workers, those that are unionized and not unionized in New Providence to join me as we march through the streets of the capital. I am convinced that as we join together in the spirit of love and unity, we demonstrate to the world that we in the Bahamas are proud of our history.
The Labour Day March tomorrow morning will demonstrate that we as Bahamians are proud to hold up our people as National Heroes, as we again honour the legacy of Sir Randol Fawkes for his outstanding work and legacy that he has left for workers of this country and all Bahamians.
On behalf of the Government of The Bahamas, I again congratulate the NCTUB and the CBTUC for the excellent work that they do to protect workers’ rights and I pray that you and your family have a wonderful ‘Labour Day’.
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