Workers need to be empowered to know their rights
Editor: Another Labour day is with us, May 1st to be precise, and I ask myself what have we done to improve the causes of workers? Who is a worker? In the Oxford Dictionary, a worker is described as “one who exchanges his labour or service in return for payment or reward”.
In the insect kingdom a worker is the unit that the colony depends on for its survival. From the aforementioned analogy it is clear to one and all, that workers are important. Yet in SVG we as workers hardly care about ourselves. We will associate with politics, groups, churches, and every other aspect but ourselves as workers is not significant. Many professions do not consider themselves as workers. The vendors, cart pushers, farmers, fisherfolks, lawyers and doctors (the list can go on) do not identify themselves as “workers”. The more marginal the job, the less significance it seems to carry. But why is this so? We have never placed emphasis on educating and informing people about the purpose and importance of being a worker. And this is the reason why this continues to plague us. The fear from the past continues to hold us in moving forward.
The fear of educating, informing and empowering people as the old adage says, “Knowledge is power” “Knowledge is Strength”, and “Strength is Virtue.” And if this one have this, it is difficult to manipulate such persons and to keep them blind and ignorant of the facts. The ability to manipulate, to rule and control them will not be so. They will no longer become dependent on the system for their self-existence.
The mobilization of labour is essential if development is to become a reality. Improvement in the quality of life of people must come about through self-reliance in all areas of society. This self-reliance is a kind of power which will liberate the people of the community to make full use of all opportunities and resources, especially human resources. Until we do such we are doomed to continue the malaise that are facing us, passive objects of the trickle down policies that do not see the needs, rights and benefits of the under-privileged.
The domestic workers, gardeners, ordinary labourers, store clerks, messengers, have nothing to get after spending all of their working life with theses employers and institutions. I had the rude awakening when I found out that the domestic workers and garden helpers are not recognized under the Protection of Employment Act 2003. How could a nation be that callous in not providing the basic protection for some of its most vulnerable set of workers? Is this a mistake? Or was this done on purpose? This has to change. We have to start to advocating for the changes of such laws. We cannot allow our children to come and face such situation. It is 40 years of independence that we are celebrating. This practice that has been perpetrated for years. A nation is known for its development and integrity base on the way it treats the lowly, underprivileged and challenged citizens.
The importance of jobs and better working conditions goes a long way with the rights and privileges of all workers. I hope my ramblings would cause some minds to jolt and to spur some actions to address these workers injustices.