Celebration of Working People
My Fellow Citizens and Residents, it is a pleasure to speak to you as we commemorate Labour Day, an International Day for the expression of solidarity with workers. This year, because of COVID-19, workers cannot congregate in crowds, as this is not in keeping with the advice of our health experts who are working hard to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease. The workers’ health, of course, must come first. In the quiet of our homes, we can ponder the importance of Labour Day.
This is an important day when we give thanks and pay tribute to all those hardworking people in our Federation and, of course, the working people who came before us and made such a significant contribution to our Federation’s development and democracy.
Through the years, the labour movement in the region has been a force for good, striving for equality, freedom and the dignity of workers. Ensuring that workers are treated fairly and with respect inside and outside of the workplace.
I appreciate that our region including our Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis would not be where it is today without the hard work and sacrifice of the leaders of the Trade Union Movement.
These are highly unusual times. The world is faced with a pandemic, which is devastating in its impact.
Normally workers in our region would be out in the streets in great numbers celebrating Labour Day.
Sadly, due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, this is not possible, as we must protect ourselves against the spread of the virus. Health experts around the world have advised that social distancing and the avoidance of crowds are effective ways to slow the transmission of the dreaded coronavirus disease.
I know that this is an inconvenience, but it is one we must endure to safeguard our health and wellbeing. As at 3:00pm Thursday, April 30th, COVID-19 had caused the death of 217,769 persons worldwide and 3,090,445 persons were tested positive. We thank God that the strong measures introduced in a timely manner by our Government in St. Kitts and Nevis, such as lockdowns, the closing of our borders, aggressive contact tracing and quarantine, have spared us from the worst. We have 15 cases with no admissions to our hospitals and no deaths, with 6 of the 15 cases fully recovered (as at 3:00pm Thursday, April 30th). We are happy for all those who have recovered and we wish them all a speedy recovery. (Please note that this message was recorded on the morning of Friday, May 1st, 2020 so the speech cites national statistics as at 3:00pm Thursday, April 30th. As at 3:00pm Saturday, May 2nd, the number of recovered persons in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis has since increased and now stands at 8.)
I must thank all of those workers who have helped our Federation through this difficult time. I pay my highest tribute to all our frontline workers across a range of Government Ministries including Health and National Security. I commend the exemplary dedication and patriotism of Drs. Hazel Laws and Cameron Wilkinson and a wider body of health workers, the Chairman of the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC), Mr. Abdias Samuel and the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hilroy Brandy, as a gold standard, which every worker in the public and private sectors should strive to emulate now and post-COVID-19.
Let me also thank the wider population for showing solidarity with your friends and neighbours by following the restrictions and health guidelines in place over the last few weeks.
I am satisfied that this Team Unity Government has delivered on the values, which this day represents and symbolizes for all hardworking people.
We have delivered real labour values through a record number of new jobs, which means more opportunities for our working people. Our plan for rebuilding St. Kitts and Nevis post-COVID-19 would result in thousands of jobs for our young people and exciting new opportunities for business in the future.
We have recorded 5 years of consecutive economic growth.
Our streets today are safer, and major crimes have declined dramatically year-on-year and thousands have benefited from our housing support.
We have always been supportive of workers – and we will continue to be. That is why we were able to deliver the most comprehensive stimulus package in the Caribbean region to help those workers hit hard by COVID-19. The workers and their families can always rely on our Team Unity Government to care for and protect them in good times and in bad times.
My Government strives to provide the things that working people and their families need and deserve.
You cannot have labour values if you leave the country with a high IMF debt, making it vulnerable.
These values are ones that I have championed during my time in public office, and now through the PLP and Team Unity I continue to champion them.
I know that there will be many people feeling anxious about the future in the context of COVID-19. Even in these challenging times, however, we must draw on our physical and spiritual resources – remembering that God has promised not to forsake us. He is still our anchor, and we must keep trusting in His protection and providence.
I can assure you that whatever happens, this Government will continue to fight for the workers, to fight for labour values and traditions that we celebrate on Labour Day.
These values include hard work, equality, humanity, solidarity and love.
These values we will always hold dear and use to guide us in public service.
We owe that to the people of this Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, and we owe that to the generations past who struggled so hard to see these values represented across our islands. We owe it to the exemplary sacrifice of our people during COVID-19 and to our men and women who have been doing such an excellent job on the front lines.
I know that if we are unified and we see these difficult times through, a brighter and safer future awaits the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.
I wish all workers – all workers and their families – a very pleasant and restful Labour Day, and may God bless the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
I thank you.