More importantly, Labour Day is celebrated in recognition of the fundamental rights of workers; rights which have been earned through blood, sweat, and tears; rights without which, workers have been exploited, abused and/or killed throughout history, and sadly, even today, in the 21st Century.
On the occasion of Labour Day, The Grenada Movement (TGM) wishes to take the opportunity to reflect upon the state of labour rights in Grenada in 2021. We note with concern, what can at best be described as a worrying state of affairs, not only with regard to labour rights, but also with regard to attitudes towards the labour movement, as evidenced by recent events.
Prior to its recent comments directly addressing its inability to pay teachers and other public servants the 4% wage increase to which it had committed itself, the Government of Grenada opted to arrogantly stonewall the labour unions on this matter, refusing to directly address the matter. Even worse, was the attempt to vilify protesting public servants under the guise of violations of public health protocols, and when that did not work, the interrogation of the President of the Grenada Union of Teachers by the police. The latter action by the Government suggested that direct intimidation was preferred to dialogue.
TGM is happy to note that there seems to finally be a willingness on the part of the Government, to constructively engage with the unions on this matter, and we remain cautiously optimistic that good sense will prevail.
There are, however, other issues affecting labour and labour rights in Grenada that require attention. It cannot be right, for example, that Grenadian nationals or persons of any nationality, on Grenadian soil, are obliged to accept conditions of employment that are in stark violation of the Grenadian Constitution. Despite the ruling party having campaigned for and won the right to represent all Grenadians in the Parliament, and despite the fact that the campaign included promises to secure the rights of the Workers of this country, the Government is silent when private sector companies insist that workers cannot be members of labour unions. This deafening silence occurs in spite of our constitutionally-guaranteed right to freedom of association.
That silence is also noticeable where the issue of Workers rights and the Covid-19 vaccines are concerned. In the absence of legislation, but more importantly, in the absence of a communication programme that provides critical information and answers questions on the benefits and risks of any available vaccines, what is the Government’s position on the suggestion that employers can dictate to their employees that they must be vaccinated in order to continue to be employed?
What, if any action, does the Government consider appropriate to deal with these issues? How will it protect Workers and protect their rights as enshrined in the Constitution?
We call upon our labour unions to develop themselves, so that they can offer the best possible representation to their members. In a world that is rapidly changing, the challenges facing workers today are often broader and deeper than in the years gone by, and require relevant approaches, in order for our unions to continue to act in the best interests of their membership.
We call on the Government and all employers to treat workers with respect and consideration in this difficult period. The sacrifices that are demanded cannot be allowed to fall unevenly on the shoulders of only Grenada’s working class.
And finally, we call on the hard-working men and women of Grenada, Cariaccou and Petit Martinique to continue to put their hearts, minds and passions to the grindstone. There is much work to be done before we can rest.
Happy Labour Day.
The Grenada Movement (TGM)