May Day, also referred to as Labour Day or International Workers’ Day, is celebrated on May 1st in Barbados and many countries around the world.  In recognition of their historical roots in the struggle for the eight-hour workday, equitable pay, secure working conditions, and workers’ rights, workers and the labour movement are celebrated on this day for their efforts.

It’s About You Too”, the theme for this year, emphasizes that You, the workers, are the backbone of our country. It’s not only about land and money and technology. Your labour – brain and muscle – drives progress, innovation and prosperity, and aids in shaping our nation.

The Declaration of Mission Barbados signed on May Day 2023 was a significant event.  By signing this declaration, the Government and social partners pledged to prioritize initiatives that promote social justice, labour rights, fairness, and sustainable development. These are all integral to improving the lives of workers.

Over the past six years, in its human-centred approach to development, the Government has prioritized improving the lives of workers.

  • The salaries of public officers have been increased three times.
  • The Reverse Tax Credit has been restored.
  • A Compensatory Income Credit was introduced.
  • A National Minimum Wage was introduced and a Sectoral Minimum Wage has been put in place for Security Officers.
  • Legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment was enacted.
  • Over 3,000 public officers were appointed.
  • Safety and Health Regulations were enacted to mandate, among other things, the provision of drinking water, personal protective equipment, toilet facilities, annual medical tests and rain protection gear for workers in fuel stations, as well as eye tests for workers who have to sit in front of computer screens for long periods of time.
  • Minimum rates of pay and conditions of work were established when businesses receive Government contracts for construction or road building.
  • A National Workplace Wellness Policy has been developed and adopted.
  • The International Labour Convention on violence and harassment in the world of work was ratified after we played a major role in developing it.
  • The Labour Clauses Concessions Act was passed.
  • The International Labour Convention on domestic workers has been approved by The Cabinet for ratification.

As we celebrate May Day, let us reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the principles that cause us to stand together in solidarity for a fair, equitable and just future for all, ensuring that no one is left behind. Let us reaffirm that there is dignity in all forms of labour, and that labour is not a commodity, but rather the output of workers and their significant contribution to nation-building.

Brothers and sisters, on behalf of the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and the Third Sector, I celebrate the hard work, dedication and achievements of the workers of Barbados.

Happy May Day to all!

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