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I am pleased today to join with workers and their unions across Guyana in celebrating Labour Day – a time for recognition and commendation of the superlative contributions of our working men and women.
Our workers are most indispensable to national development. They provide the brain and muscle of our economy. Workers are the prime force in transforming our resources into wealth. They help drive and sustain economic growth and are the protagonists of human development. Without workers, our economy would grind to a halt.
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has inflicted grievous harm to the global economy. Workers have borne the brunt of the global downturn resulting from the pandemic. Employment shrunk as hundreds of millions of workers were hurled onto the breadline.
Guyana has not been immune to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our economy has also been adversely affected, but we have taken and will continue to take steps to protect workers and their families:
We have provided relief to households;
We have offered incentives to frontline workers;
We are safeguarding our people’s health through an aggressive vaccination campaign;
We have removed the heavy burdens of taxation which were previously imposed on our citizens;
We are defending workers’ rights;
We are innovatively supporting the education of workers’ children; and
We are adopting measures to protect jobs.
Government cannot do this all alone. We need the support of employers and workers. We must all band together to ride out this storm – to ensure a quick exit from the pandemic, to restore economic normalcy, and then to move dynamically onward to catapulting our economy to higher heights of performance.
This is the time when all are called to make sacrifices and contributions to protect all of our citizens and to ensure a rapid recovery from the effects of the pandemic. This is not the time for squabbling or confrontation.
The objectives of unions and the government are the same when it comes to workers; we have a common interest because we seek a freer, safer, more united and prosperous country, where every worker benefits and where his or her children can be assured of greater opportunities.
Every worker, whether in the formal or informal sectors, whether employed in the traditional or newly emerging sectors or engaged in the private or public sector, has a critical role to play in helping to navigate our economic recovery and advancing economic growth and development.
My Government is committed to ensuring a better life for all workers. Our workers deserve this! Over the next five years and beyond, workers can look forward to greater economic security, enhanced economic prosperity and progressive improvements in citizens’ living standards.
Today, Labour Day, the Government of Guyana salutes all workers and their representative organizations. We urge that the celebration of this year’s May Day, subdued as it is because of the pandemic, be an occasion for sober reflection, assessment and forward planning, and a time to recommit to the ideals of the unity of the trade union movement.
Long live the workers of Guyana! Solidarity forever!