President: Unions must Rethink Approach

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By Sue-Ann Wayow

WHILE the labour sector has improved greatly since the struggles of labour leader Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler, much more still needs to be done says President Christine Kangaloo. 

Kangaloo, in a statement of the occasion of Labour Day 2024, paid tribute to the many who fought with the law to ensure better and fairer working conditions that are enjoyed today.

She remembered the riots of June 19, 1937 when police officers attempted to arrest Butler while he was making a speech to workers at Fyzabad. And the riots followed. 

Kangaloo said the root cause of the riots were unfair and unjust labour practices.  

“We pay tribute to the courageous men and women whose sacrifices made possible the rights and freedoms enjoyed by workers today. We recognise the long and the arduous battles to secure fair pay and decent working conditions, and we acknowledge the progress that has been made in that regard,” she said.

With the changes of the modern economy and technology, labour groups now have new challenges. 

Kangaloo said, “Automation, technological advancements, the Covid-19 pandemic, and artificial intelligence, among other developments, compel unions to rethink their approaches and to adapt, in order to ensure that they continue effectively to contribute in a constantly changing labour environment.” 

She also had a message for employers saying they must erase the line between themselves and their employees.

“True progress lies in recognising that employees and their representatives are partners on the same journey to better and more efficiently run businesses. Employers must recognise that safe, responsive and fair working conditions and environments increase productivity, which in turn redounds to the benefit of both partners in the employment relationship.” 

She encouraged each citizen to do their part. 

“Each of us, in our interactions with one another, need to be more flexible, more tolerant, more open to new ways of seeing and doing things, and more accepting of our different perspectives. We cannot demand of labour and employers that which we do not practise ourselves.” 

Kangaloo continued, “Let us commit to building the broader environment that will cause labour and employers to collaborate even more effectively, and that will cause our nation to thrive. If we apply ourselves, we can and we will be successful in navigating the challenges that face us. We will emerge stronger and more resilient than ever.” 


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