On behalf of the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, I wish to extend heartfelt greetings to all workers and recognized representative organizations within our beloved nation.
International Labour Day is known worldwide as the day when we celebrate all workers and in St Vincent and the Grenadines, we honour our workers by acknowledging May 1st/ Mayday as a public holiday in celebration of the historic achievements of the Labour sector throughout the country.
At the Ministry of Labour, we are aware of the challenges that have faced our country in recent times. We confronted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects from the volcanic eruptions, both of which had significant impacts on our general economy and specifically, on our workforce.
Nevertheless, we remain resolute in our commitment to protect the rights and welfare of our workers. We recognize the role that the workforce plays in the development of our nation, and we are determined to create an environment that is conducive to the growth and well-being of all our citizens.
Permit me the indulgence of highlighting recent achievements within the employment sector, despite the effects of major challenges.
Our efforts to restore normalcy have been met with positive results. Despite the challenges faced by both the private and public sectors, we have witnessed an increase in construction activities, such as the port expansion project and the construction of new hotels on mainland St Vincent and in the Grenadines, leading to an increase in job opportunities.
This government intends to continue its dialogue with foreign entities to open the gateway for more skilled Vincentians to be gainfully employed abroad as we actively participate in the global labour market. In the same light, the expanding Blue Economy will be attracting a cadre of skilled workers from the Caricom region and internationally, to ensure that we have the requisite skill transfer to be able to harness the opportunities in our fisheries sector. Further, we have secured funding from the Government of Taiwan to facilitate skills set training that will increase the employability of workers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Additionally, this year a new wages council was established, the mandate of which is to ensure that all workers are fairly compensated for their work. This consultation process commenced on the 29th of March 2023. The participants included the Labour Department, and key stakeholders such as the Trade Union Movement, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Employers Federation, and other relevant parties. This is in keeping with the Government’s dedication to reducing poverty and advancing fairness in the labour market. We continue to enforce our commitment to achieving Goal 8 of the Sustainable Development Goal to ‘promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all’.
The 2023 Wages Council will ensure that workers receive fair pay and that there is a fair distribution of wealth in our society. We believe that this is an important step towards building a more equitable society.
In addition, the Labour Department has reinforced our commitment to the mandate of safeguarding the rights of workers and promoting harmonious industrial relations. We are confident that these measures will facilitate our goal of ensuring decent work for all.
As we look ahead to 2023-2024, the Department of Labour within the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Rural Transformation, and Industry intends to conduct another Labour Demand Survey, which will provide updated information on the changing needs of the labour market. This will help us formulate policies and programmes that are responsive to those needs.
This government aims to strengthen the labour legislative framework to provide greater protection for employees. The Labour Department has devised a law review team which will evaluate the Labour laws of SVG and make recommendations for amendments, repealing and the drafting of legislation in keeping with the recommendations of the International Labour Organization.
On this Labour Day, I acknowledge the importance of celebrating the contributions of all workers in SVG. As we reflect on the challenges faced, one must also recognize the vital role our workers played in keeping our economy afloat during the COVID 19 pandemic and the eruptions of La Soufriere . Our farmers and fishers continue to make us proud as they fight to ensure food security and food sovereignty in an environment of challenges caused by Climate Change and the resulant implications of the Russian/Ukraine conflict.
Our Labour Goverment will continue to defend the rights of all workers. Today I wish the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines a blessed Labour Day.