The labor movement in this country has an incredibly rich history. The labor leaders of old are credited with not only defending the rights of workers across the archipelago but also with the development of the country as a whole. In a pre-majority rule Bahamas, the labour movement, founded and propelled by a courageous group of Bahamian men and women led by the likes of Sir Randol Fawkes and countless others, were instrumental in securing the racial, financial, and economic freedoms which we currently enjoy. In addition to ushering Majority Rule, unionism in the Bahamas also led to the creation of the middle class, improving the quality of life for countless Bahamians. In short, the success of a post colonial Bahamas has been built largely on the backs and with the help of the Labor Movement.
Come Friday, we will again mark the annual observance of Labor Day in this country. Even as we celebrate the many accomplishments of the labor movement, we must not become complacent. Over the course of many months and years, we have seen the labor movement suffer setbacks. From blatant government manipulation and politicization of the country’s public sector and its workers, to an apparent lack of will in reforming the public service. Previous administrations have shown a complete disregard for the contributions which hardworking Bahamians make to the continued development of our beloved country. The rights of the worker have been devalued and infringed upon for the sake of big business and unfortunately, the political directive in this country has done little to preserve the integrity of the mandate given to us by our founding fathers.
Since the establishment of the labor movement the government has refused to grow and adapt to the needs of the working populous. Despite agitation from unionists, the government has refused to incorporate ILO conventions into local laws, chief among them convention number 87 which ensures that workers have the right to join the union of their choice. Instead, the government has continued to employ union busting tactics designed to destabilize the movement.
As it has done since its inception, the Democratic National Alliance has and will continue to fully support the country’s unions and its members. We fully support the right of Bahamians to organize and defend their rights as workers. .
A DNA government will, in all cases work to negotiate in good faith, respecting the voices and contributions of workers. A DNA government will work to defend the rights of workers from unfair treatment at the hands of foreign companies and ensure that key public sector reforms take place with a view to improving productivity across the board.
The DNA encourages this administration to recommit itself to the values once espoused by the unionists of yesteryear as we work in solidarity with the labour movement as they strive to achieve their mandate as expressed by the International Labor Organization which is to advance opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity.
HAPPY LABOR DAY BAHAMAS!
DNA Deputy Leader