The following message was released by Acting Opposition Leader & Deputy Party Leader of the One Bermuda Alliance, Jarion Richardson MP…
Happy Labour Day!
I’m proud to join my party colleagues in recognising and honouring the invaluable contributions of workers in Bermuda. We hope the entire island takes this time to acknowledge the hard work that has been given, as we collectively move forward with the aspiration to build a better life for all.
Most importantly, we encourage everyone who can, to take the time to rest today (Sept 5). You have earned it. You deserve it.
The fight for an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay will never be over. Yes, there’s the 40-hour work week, weekends, paid leave, pensions, health insurance and social insurance. But these benefits were not easily won.
Only through the singular vision and focus of hard-working men and women was the contribution and value of labour recognised in law.
It’s not unimaginable for us to backslide on workers’ rights. We are living in financially challenging times, where wages have stagnated while the price of everything from bread to fuel has skyrocketed. It doesn’t take much to see the threats to workers.
In the not too distant past, workers had to contend with countless work-related injuries and deaths. Families were impoverished and their hopes and dreams diminished. Industries traditionally made working conditions an afterthought. Organised labour has been the most effective means to protecting workers and their rights.
I recall working in a hospitality establishment in my late teens. A particular manager had scheduled my colleagues and I to work arduous hours. We could hardly get home. We were all exhausted, distracted and it was showing in our work.
I remember getting approached in the cafeteria by the shop steward. Our working conditions were a clear contravention of the bargaining agreement. Before the end of the day, the schedule was rearranged, and life returned to normal.
In another case, my colleague and I were expected to move heavy loads around a property, but we weren’t equipped with carts, trucks, etc. That matter was cleared up by the union as well.
Even though the worst of the historical abuse has passed, the motivations to take advantage of labour are still present.
My party colleagues and I hope local labour movements will stay strong, relevant, and vigilant, even when it makes all of uncomfortable.
But most importantly, we hope workers will be recognised and honoured, so they can in turn support their families, which will ultimately bring about a better Bermuda.