Wed | May 22, 2019

Golding: 2004 MOU defining mark of Nelson’s career

Published:Friday | February 1, 2019 | 12:16 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Nicole Nelson Barra, daughter of the late Dwight Nelson, watches as her daughter, Lillianna Barra, handles a funeral programme at the thanksgiving service for the late Dwight Nelson on Thursday. The service was held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral.

A quintessential family man, friend, and a hard worker was how family, friends and ­colleagues remembered former government minister and trade unionist, Dwight Nelson, at his funeral yesterday.

Tribute after tribute at a packed Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity in Kingston painted the picture of a patriot who will be ­remembered for his fervour in the fight for worker rights.

Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who delivered the ­remembrance on behalf of the bereaved family, spoke of his own fondness for Nelson, having first met him while they were first-formers at St George’s College.

He said that Nelson’s brilliance as a student underlined his unassuming personality.

“He did very well at school. Every term, he was in the top rung in his class,” Golding recalled. “He was in the company of many of the top achievers, and despite his voice problems, he was a brilliant elocutionist.”

Nelson’s greatest achievement, for which history will be kind to him, according to the former Jamaica Labour Party leader, was the ­pivotal role he played in the historic memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Government and public-sector unions in 2004.

“It came about in the face of an adversarial relationship that traditionally exists between the Government and public-sector workers on the issue of wages,” Golding said.

President general of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, Kavan Gayle, hailed the organisation’s former vice-president as a master negotiator.

Son Kevin described Nelson as a “giant of a man, who taught his children how to be happy”, while Lay Magistrate Lorraine Ross-Clunie remembered him as a man of pure class, who, at his core, was a ­“genuine person”.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips read scripture during the service.

Nelson, who passed away on December 24 last year aged 72, also served as national security minister, senator, and lectured at The University of the West Indies.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com