It was the first Labour Day address for new Minister of Labour, Peter David and though he made promises of being committed to improving and alleviating workers woes, President of the Grenada Trade Union Council (GTUC), Andre Lewis, accused the new minister of piggybacking on what has been said by many Ministers of Labour before.
In David’s address Tuesday to hundreds of workers at the National Cricket Stadium at Queen’s Park, he said that since taking up office six weeks ago following the general election, May 1st was definitely his proudest day.
In past Labour day celebrations, David often marched under the banner of the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) that was headed for many years by his 1979-83 revolutionary colleague, Chester Humphrey.
Minister David told workers that he intends to improve relations between the Ministry and GTUC for the benefit of workers.
He outlined some of his plans going forward as the deepening and strengthening of cooperation between government and labour, improvements in the state of labour relations between trade unions and employers and the provision of an effective mechanism at the Ministry of Labour for a more timely recognition of grievances.
“The Ministry of Labour is also committed to the improvement of occupational safety and health at the work place and the welfare of the working population. The Ministry of Labour will also seek to promote and improve social security”, he said.
“Comrades, the issue of labour productivity is one that we have committed to addressing in order to improve our labour competitiveness, safeguard jobs and expand employment”, he added.
After the minister’s delivery, the GTUC President called out David for promising what was already promised by former Labour Ministers over the years to the workers of the country.
“… The only thing new today is that he (David) is the Minister for Labour but we have heard all of that before. As a matter of fact … one can adequately say that you would have lifted that from the speeches of Ministers of Labour in the past but we will hold you accountable because you have said and you have demonstrated that you have marched with the Labour movement before”, he said.
“So, you shall be held accountable because what you cannot stop is the passing of time and May Day will be here next year….”, he added.
The TUC boss reminded Minister David, a former Congress government minister who is now with the ruling party of its campaign slogan, “Can’t sit down, sit down” that helped it to capture all 15 seats in the national poll.
“The government has been saying that they can’t sit down, sit down, sit down but that was only in relation to fighting for votes, but you have been sitting down when it comes to healthcare”, he said.
Lewis reminded the government minister that the Healthcare problems in the country “didn’t start because you became the new Minister of Labour, we have been having this issue for years”.
“The issue in the Ministry of Social Affairs, the issue of whether or not the irregularities within the needy programme – this government didn’t come into office on the 14th of March, this is the 6th year, so it therefore means the government has been administering over a corrupt system”, he told the workers.
“Don’t try to get out because you win a new election – don’t try that with us. We shall not sit down, we shall move on, stand up, stand up, stand up”, he said.