Labour Day 2023: “Let us forge a new era of relations” – President Ali to labour movement

…Govt continues to place welfare of workers at forefront – PM
…as Opposition calls for Union leaders to “stand tall” for workers

In observance of today’s Labour Day celebration, President Dr Irfaan Ali said that this day reminds of the legacy of workers which can only be preserved through greater collaboration and cooperation by stakeholders.
The Head of State, in his May Day 2023 message, pointed to the need of a “new compact” between labour and the Government as well as between the labour movement and its members. To this end, President Ali declared that he is prepared to be part of fashioning a new era of relations between Government, the labour movement and the private sector – one in which everyone joins forces to work for the advancement of workers rather than work against each other.
“Let us therefore forge a new era of relations bereft of rifts and discord. Let us establish platforms of cooperation predicated on respect and civility and characterised by cooperation. Let us work together to end exploitation, eradicate child labour, improve workers’ safety, ensure social protections, address labour shortages and ensure greater competitiveness and efficiency all of which are vital to long-term and sustainable growth and development. I remain open to a tripartite dialogue between labour, the private sector and the Government,” the Guyanese leader stated.
He went on to recognise that May Day pays homage to the struggles and sacrifices of workers and their continuing contributions to development. As such, the President posited that the inheritors of the gains of these struggles have an obligation to consolidate workers’ rights and advances.
According to the Head of State, as the role of capital and technology is increasingly catapulted into the spotlight around the world, the contributions of workers must never be understated or underestimated.
“No great human achievement be it scientific, technological, economic or political – can discount the decisive role of workers. Through their industry, intelligence, initiative and ingenuity, workers have transformed the forces of production, creating wealth and enhancing progress,” he noted.
With Guyana presently on an irreversible trajectory towards greater progress and prosperity, President Ali contended that workers are pivotal to the success of this process. He stressed that without their brain and brawn, skill and steadfastness and creativity and craftsmanship, economic and social transformation will stall.
“I assure all the workers of Guyana that not only will they benefit significantly from the country’s economic and social transformation but they will be one of the principal forces driving this process. My Government’s developmental philosophy emphasises a people-centred approach to development. The welfare of people, and particularly our workers, is at the centre of efforts to establish shared national prosperity,” he said.
The President further noted that working class families are being provided with greater opportunities under his Government in areas such as housing, academic and skills development, job creation, enhanced infrastructure, and improved healthcare services, among others.
According to Ali, these and other working-class gains are best secured by a united labour movement but, sadly, yet another May Day finds the local labour movement divided.
“A fractured labour movement undermines workers’ solidarity. This is far from desirable in protecting workers’ rights and consolidating their gains. It is the primary responsibility of workers themselves to restore vigour, vitality and accountability to their unions,” he asserted.

“Stand tall”
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton in his Labour Day message highlighted the need to build strong and progressive union representation for workers in Guyana. He said workers and citizens have been working under unacceptable conditions, for longer hours while receiving less money.
According to Norton, these kinds of exploitations and atrocities must be fought back by all and sundry.
“Our citizens/our workers must be able to live a better life… Workers deserve job security…Union leaders must stand tall, decked out with decency, integrity and a commitment to fight for equity, equality and fairness. Your struggle in essence should be to ensure and secure jobs, decent liveable wages and conditions of work for your membership. We ask you leaders to raise your voice for better healthcare and secured retirement packages,” the Opposition Leader implored.

Welfare of workers
Prime Minister, Brigadier (Retired) Mark Phillips, on the other hand, reminded that Labour Day is dedicated to honouring the hard work, dedication and sacrifices of the labour force and the notable figures who poured tremendous effort towards fighting for the greater well-being and rights of workers in Guyana. It is also a day, he added, to reflect on the progress the nation has made with regard to the fair and equitable treatment of workers in Guyana as the country strives towards a prosperous future for all its citizens.
According to Phillips in his Labour Day message, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government continues to place the welfare of workers at the forefront of the country’s interests.
He reminded of the re-establishment of the Labour Ministry in 2020 and intense efforts to ensure that all matters of interest to ?our labour force regarding remuneration, rights, working conditions and even capacity building are addressed.
“Our work is not over, as we continue to pay attention to ongoing challenges our workers may face. We are ever conscious to address any matters of inequalities, discrimination or lack of opportunities that may arise and we continue to advocate for the rights of all workers to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed,” he stated.
The Prime Minister went on to call on all stakeholders to recommit to building a better future for all. “Together, let us strive towards a society that values and respects every person, where hard work is duly recognised and rewarded, and where everyone has an equal chance to succeed. Let us never forget that our strength lies in our collective unity and that by working collaboratively, we can accomplish remarkable feats,” Phillips urged. (G8)