Fri | May 24, 2019

Remember security guards on Labour Day

Published:Monday | April 22, 2019 | 12:30 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Labour Day is fast approaching! I wonder how many of us remember what Labour Day is about? Some will tell you that it is about putting work into Labour Day.

Historians have told us that workers had to work under some very repressive, racist and horrible conditions even after slavery was abolished in 1834, after which came full emancipation a few years later. Queen Victoria was credited for granting slaves their freedom and her birthday was celebrated in Jamaica. Her birthday celebrations were replaced with the celebration of Labour Day, on May 23, which we use to recognise our workers.

A few years ago, the theme of Labour Day became, ‘Put Work into Labour Day’. The workers have since been removed from the centre of the Labour Day celebrations and replaced with other matters.

We need to put the workers back to the centre of the Labour Day celebrations. When we look at what is happening to contract workers and specifically the security guards then it seems that we are fast going back to the pre-1938 era.

On Labour Day, let us remember the thousands of security guards and other contract workers who work for many hours under harsh conditions. Many are not a part of a pension scheme, they get no paid leave, no uniform allowance, no statutory payments are paid to government for them, some get less than the minimum wage pay, they have no security of tenure in their jobs and generally they feel no self-esteem nor dignity as a worker.

Let’s call for a change in the working conditions especially for these workers. Let’s put the Workers back to the centre of Labour Day.

Vernon L Derby

vderby@yahoo.com