The Grenada Trade Union Council (TUC) and its seven affiliates will this year celebrate 60 years of struggle and successes in fighting for workers’ rights.
The TUC anniversary is being held under the theme: Maintaining the flames of our founding fathers while restructuring in the face of economic challenges”.
President of the trade union umbrella body, Madonna Harford, told reporters that the council has not only fought for the rights of unionised workers but also for non-unionized workers in the country.
Harford who is not seeking re-election for another term in office cited the case of Security Officers in the 2010/2011 period when TUC put forward a case on behalf of these non-unionised persons.
“…We championed (their cause) and we were able to ensure that they got just wages,” said the female trade unionist.
Harford noted that over the years the body has supported various legislation geared at improving the status, working and living conditions of workers and resisted those legislation that would have affected the interest of workers in the country.
She recalled that one of the legislation rejected was the National Reconstruction levy (NRL) that was introduced by the 2003-08 New National Party (NNP) administration of current Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell after the passage of Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.
“The TUC felt at the time that in 2005 soon after the destruction of
Grenada when every worker would have lost their house or their roofs on their houses, we felt at that time workers were not able to pay a 5% reconstruction levy. TUC resisted that and we gained in the long run – workers had to pay 3%, a reduction from 5%,” she remarked.
According to Harford, a former Permanent Secretary in the Public Sector, the council has also fought for the Maternity Leave law of 1980, which is being utilised by many mothers today.
“The GTUC was instrumental in laws, legislation as the Maternity Leave law of 1980, which provided three months leave for mothers on the birth of a child. Before, mothers had to either take no pay leave or whatever vacation leave they would have had. It was (an) initiative of the TUC and on dialogue with the People’s Revolutionary Government at the time that we were able to see mothers getting three months maternity leave,” she said.
Second Vice president of the TUC, Kenny James told reporters that every thing achieved by the TUC came through struggle.
“No employer willingly wakes up one morning and just bestowed a benefit on the worker. As the workers of this generation, the onus is on us to remember that we need to fight today for greater benefits, that in the next 60 years those who would be sitting around this table can say that we have fought a good fight, that we have done well in terms of adding to the foundation set by the founding fathers,” James said.
The TUC is the umbrella body for the Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU), Public Workers Union (PWU), Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT), Commercial and Industrial Workers Union (CIWU), Bank and General Workers Union (BGWU), Seamen and Waterfront Workers Union (SWWU)and the Grenada Manual, Maritime and Intellectual Workers Union (GMMIWU).
The affiliates represent workers in the commercial, industrial, agricultural, essential services, public services, hotel sector, banking and other financial services.
The celebrations of the anniversary began with a church service on March 8th at the Bethel Methodist Church in St Paul’s and will end with a dinner and award ceremony.